Primary mediastinal masses: A comparison of adult and pediatric populations

K. S. Azarow, R. H. Pearl, R. Zurcher, F. H. Edwards, A. J. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Since 1944 62 pediatric patients with primary cysts and tumors of the mediastinum have been operated on at our institution. We compared this group with 195 adult patients with similar diagnoses who were operated on during this period. Comparisons were made with regard to histologic type, location, presenting symptoms, physical findings, and surgical complications. We found significant increases in the prevalence of lymphoma in adults (41/195 versus 4/62, p < 0.05) and of neurogenic tumors in children (21/62 versus 24/195, p < 0.05). There were no significant differences in the prevalence of thymic tumors (51/195 versus 22/62), germ cell tumors (24/195 versus 4/62), and cysts (32/195 versus 15/62). There was no difference in the prevalence of symptomatic patients (99/195 versus 36/62). The prevalence of malignancy has increased in both groups since 1970 (2/28 versus 16/34 in children, p < 0.01; and 14/56 versus 69/139 in adults, p < 0.05). This is attributed to a rise in the prevalence of malignant neurogenic tumors in children and to an increase in the prevalence of lymphomas in adults. Tumor size, location, and the presence of symptoms were predictive of malignancy in the adult population but not in the pediatric population. No difference existed in mortality and morbidity between the two groups. All three pediatric deaths were directly related to loss of airway control as a result of mass effect from the tumor. Definite differences exist between the adult and pediatric populations with regard to mediastinal tumors. These differences need to be considered carefully when evaluating and planning treatment for a child with a mediastinal mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-72
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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