Mediastinal mass

Last revised by Arlene Campos on 30 Jan 2024

Mediastinal masses may be caused by a wide variety of neoplastic and non-neoplastic pathologies. It is helpful to identify the location of the mass since this significantly reduces the breadth of the differential diagnosis. 

There are four conceptual compartments of the mediastinum which are dictated by their relationships to the thoracic plane and pericardium:

The mediastinum does not have strict boundaries within it and large lesions will span more than one 'compartment'. More recently 3, location has been described as:

  • prevascular

  • visceral

  • paraspinal

These terms correspond to anterior, middle and posterior.

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