This site is targeted at medical and radiology professionals, contains user contributed content, and material that may be confusing to a lay audience. Use of this site implies acceptance of our Terms of Use.

Castleman disease

Castleman disease (CD) (also known as angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia or giant lymph node hyperplasia ) is an uncommon benign lymphoproliferative condition. It can affect several regions of the body although commonly described as a solitary mediastinal mass.  


The condition can potentially present at any age but typically presents in the 3rd to 4th decades.


The disease is of unknown etiology but the most widely accepted theory is that Castleman's disease is a chronic low-grade inflammatory process.

The disease is characterised by hypervascular lymphoid hyperplasia. There are two distinct sub-types of Castleman disease : uni-centric (UCD) and multi-centric (MCD). Uni-centric disease is more common

There are also several recognised sub types based on histolopathology 1-2

  • hyaline vascular
    • commoner  ~ 90%
    • more uni-centric
  • plasma cell
    • often multi-centric 
    • less enhancing
    • may be more symptomatic 5
  • HHV-8–associated Castleman disease 8
  • multicentric Castleman disease not otherwise specified

The distribution is as follows :

  • thorax: ~ 70 %
  • abdomen / pelvis and retroperitoneum: ~ 10-15 %
  • neck: 10-15 % 

Multi-centric disease may involve all of the above, and is associated with a more complex clinical course and poorer prognosis.


Radiographic features


For mediastinal lesions : CT chest

  • commonly seen as a mediastinal mass and rarely as matted lymphadenopathy (with or without a dominant mass) in a single mediastinal compartment
  • typical arborising calcification may be seen within the mass
  • typically shows intense homogeneous enhancement following contrast
  • dynamic CT demonstrates early rapid enhancement with washout in the delayed phase
For abdominal lesions : CT abdomen
  • most commonly, a single well defined abdominal mass
  • location is variable, and includes retroperitoneum, mesentery and porta hepatis 3
  • enhancement is homogeneous, or in larger lesions ( > 5cm) may demonstrate central hypo-attenuation consistent with necrosis.
  • variable pattern of calcification, including arborising calcification.
For multi-centric disease : multi-region CT
  • bilateral hilar and mediastinal lymphadenopathy
  • centrilobular nodules
  • diffuse abdominal lymphadenopathy
  • hepatosplenomegaly
  • ascites

General signal characteristics include

  • T1 - iso to hyper intense relative to skeletal muscle
  • T1 C+ (Gd) - shows enhancement
  • T2 - arborsing calcification may be seen as low signal

There is some evidence that Castleman disease is FDG avid, and therefore 18F-FDG PET may be useful in identifying the extent of multi-centric disease and for monitoring disease progression 7.

Treatment and prognosis

For unicentric Castleman disease treatment is surgical, with good prognosis (can be curative).

Multicentric Castleman disease may be treated with any combination of surgery, chemotherapy and prednisolone 6.  Prognosis is relatively poorer.


The condition was first published by Benjamin Castleman in 1954 4

Differential diagnosis

For thoracic lesions consider

Updating… Please wait.

 Details successfully updated.

Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.