Mediastinal masses: case series.

Rita Monteiro, Tiago M Alfaro, Lurdes Correia, Adélia Simão, Carlos Robalo Cordeiro, Armando Carvalho, J M Nascimento Costa


Mediastinal masses are tumoral lesions arising from intra-thoracic organs. They are an infrequent diagnostic challenge, requiring a structured clinical and radiological approach.The study of the clinical, radiological and pathological characteristics, treatment and prognosis of patients, with mediastinal masses, admitted to an Internal Medicine ward in an University Hospital.A retrospective analysis of the medical records of patients with this diagnosis made between years 2000 and 2008.Twenty-eight patients were included (15F/13M), with a mean age of 55.5 years (17-88). Twenty-six patients presented with symptoms, most frequently, dyspnoea, fatigue, dry cough, chest pain and anorexia. At examination, six exhibited superior vena cava syndrome. Chest X-ray showed pathological changes in 26. Chest CT scan added relevant information in all cases whenever it was performed. Histology was most frequently obtained by mediastinoscopy, open surgical biopsy, percutaneous thoracic biopsy and at necropsy. Histological diagnosis was not possible in ten patients. Final diagnoses included: lymphoma in four patients; sarcoidosis, thymic hyperplasia and undifferentiated squamous carcinoma of unknown origin in two patients each; other diagnosis in single cases were: thyroid teratoma, thymoma, atrial myxoid malignant fibrous histiocytoma, ganglioneuroblastoma, neuroendocrine thymic carcinoma, squamous cell lung cancer and germinative cell tumour. Thirteen patients were submitted to surgery, chemo and/or radiotherapy. Fifteen patients died during admission or when in follow-up.At our center, mediastinal masses are frequently of a malignant origin, affecting relatively young people; a late diagnosis and an associated poor prognosis was the rule, prompting for early intervention to improve outcome.

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