Pleural lipomas are the most common benign soft tissue tumour of the pleura. These lesions are thought to originate from the submesothelial layers of the parietal pleura, extending into the subpleural, pleural, or extrapleural space. Pleural lipomas are encapsulated fatty tumors with a slow growth rate.
Normally asymptomatic and detected incidentally. In some cases it causes pleural irritation with an urge to cough. When large, it can cause chest heaviness and breathlessness.
- well defined, convex lesions forming obtuse angles with the pleura
- normally vertically orientated in relation to the chest wall
- no rib erosion
- appears denser than fat because of interface with air in the lung
Cross sectional imaging
- homogeneous fat density or fat signal intensity
- no enhancement
Treatment and prognosis
They are thought to never transform into a sarcoma. Traditionally, management consisted of either doing nothing, or observation. Recently, it has been suggested that this stance should be reconsidered due to their potential to grow, and due to the advances in video-assisted thoracic surgery 2-3.
Extrapleural fat represents fat outside the parietal pleura. It is part of the loose connective tissue of the endothoracic fascia, most abundant along the posterolateral aspects of the 4th through 8th ribs. Extrapleural fat is typically bilateral, symmetrical, and located along the mid-lateral chest wall 1.
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- 2. Jayle C, Hajj-Chahine J, Allain G et-al. Pleural lipoma: a non-surgical lesion?. Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2012;14 (6): 735-8. Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg (full text) - doi:10.1093/icvts/ivs052 - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 3. Prasad S, Ramachandra L, Agarwal S et-al. Successful management of pleural lipoma by video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. J Minim Access Surg. 2012;8 (1): 19-20. J Minim Access Surg (full text) - doi:10.4103/0972-9941.91776 - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 4. Molinari F, Bankier AA, Eisenberg RL. Fat-containing lesions in adult thoracic imaging. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011;197 (5): W795-813. doi:10.2214/AJR.11.6932 - Pubmed citation
- 5. Zidane A, Atoini F, Arsalane A et-al. Parietal pleura lipoma: a rare intrathoracic tumor. Gen Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2011;59 (5): 363-6. doi:10.1007/s11748-010-0650-7 - Pubmed citation