Mediastinal Diseases and Masses / Thymoma

Stanford thoracic surgeons evaluate and treat a high volume and wide variety of mediastinal diseases. Since many of these lesions are benign, minimally invasive approaches, which allow for less discomfort and faster recovery, can often be utilized.  As in all areas of thoracic surgery, Stanford thoracic surgeons have sub-specialty training in the surgical management of mediastinal tumors and diseases. They have far more experience with these relatively rare diseases than general surgeons and even cardiothoracic surgeons at surrounding community hospitals.  For example, in the past year alone, Stanford thoracic surgeons have removed or biopsied 204 mediastinal masses – a very large volume of these cases for a single institution.

The mediastinum consists of most parts of the chest that are not taken up by the lungs or the heart and its associated large blood vessels. It is an area that in healthy individuals is filled with fatty tissue, connective tissue, lymph node tissue, and an organ called the thymus.

Regions of the Mediastinum and Common Conditions

The mediastinum is generally considered to include three distinct regions: the anterior (or anterosuperior mediastinum), the middle mediastinum, and the posterior mediastinum. The anterior mediastinum contains the thymus gland and thus is the usual location for thymomas (tumors of the thymus). Other common tumors of the anterior mediastinum are lymphomas (tumors of the lymph node system) and germ cell tumors (tumors originating in cells similar to testicular or ovarian cells but which are located abnormally in the chest). Masses in the middle mediastinum most commonly represent lymph nodes that are enlarged by a malignant, infectious, or inflammatory process. Masses in the posterior mediastinum are usually benign tumors or cysts originating from either the nerves that are present in this area (neurogenic tumors) or from the esophagus (foregut duplication cysts).

Three regions of the mediastinum

If you would like to make an appointment to see one of our surgeons for any of these problems, please call (650) 498-6000 and ask for the Thoracic Surgery new patient coordinator, or call (650) 721-2086.

The Division of Thoracic Surgery in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Stanford School of Medicine is located in the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California. For more information about our services, please contact Donna Yoshida at (650) 721-2086 or Cliff David at (650) 721-6400. For new patient Thoracic Surgery Clinic Scheduling, please call (650) 498-6000.