Cervical thymic anomalies--the Texas Children's Hospital experience

Laryngoscope. 2009 Oct;119(10):1988-93. doi: 10.1002/lary.20625.


Objectives/hypothesis: To review the presentation and management of cervical thymic cysts and ectopic thymic tissue at Texas Children's Hospital over the last 25 years.

Study design: Case report and case series using retrospective chart review.

Methods: A case report is presented of a recently diagnosed thymic cyst highlighting diagnostic, management, and treatment strategies available for optimizing management of patients with significant mediastinal extension. We then present a retrospective review of cervical thymic anomalies at a tertiary academic medical center over a 25-year span (1983-present). Data extracted include patients' characteristics, clinical presentation, diagnostic workup, surgical management, and postoperative complications.

Results: Fifteen patients were found to have a pathological diagnosis of cervical thymic cyst, and 10 patients had a diagnosis of ectopic thymic tissue in the neck. This is the largest case series of cervical thymic anomalies presented in the literature to date. Patients' characteristics, diagnostic techniques, and treatment strategies are discussed.

Conclusions: Cervical thymic anomalies are a rare but necessary part of the differential diagnosis of a cervical mass. Computed tomography scan can both narrow the preoperative differential diagnosis and aid in surgical planning for thymic cyst excision. A full discussion of the embryology, clinical presentation, and management of cervical thymic cysts and a review of the current literature is presented.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Choristoma
  • Hospitals, Pediatric
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Cyst / diagnostic imaging
  • Mediastinal Cyst / surgery*
  • Texas
  • Thoracic Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Thymectomy
  • Thymus Gland
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed