Retroperitoneal cystic masses: CT, clinical, and pathologic findings and literature review

Radiographics. 2004 Sep-Oct;24(5):1353-65. doi: 10.1148/rg.245045017.


Cystic lesions of the retroperitoneum can be classified as either neoplastic or nonneoplastic. Neoplastic lesions include cystic lymphangioma, mucinous cystadenoma, cystic teratoma, cystic mesothelioma, müllerian cyst, epidermoid cyst, tailgut cyst, bronchogenic cyst, cystic change in solid neoplasms, pseudomyxoma retroperitonei, and perianal mucinous carcinoma. Nonneoplastic lesions include pancreatic pseudocyst, nonpancreatic pseudocyst, lymphocele, urinoma, and hematoma. Because the clinical implications of and therapeutic strategies for retroperitoneal cystic masses vary depending on the cause, the ability to noninvasively differentiate between masses is important. Although there is substantial overlap of computed tomographic (CT) findings in various retroperitoneal cysts, some CT features, along with clinical characteristics, may suggest a specific diagnosis. CT may provide important information regarding lesion location, size, and shape; the presence and thickness of a wall; the presence of septa, calcifications, or fat; and involvement of adjacent structures. The most important clinical parameters include patient gender, age, symptoms, and clinical history. Familiarity with the CT and clinical features of various retroperitoneal cystic masses facilitates accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cysts / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cysts / pathology
  • Female
  • Hematoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Lymphocele / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Pseudocyst / diagnostic imaging
  • Retroperitoneal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Retroperitoneal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Retroperitoneal Space / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed