Thymic masses and mimics in adults: review of common and uncommon pathologies
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The thymus is a primary lymphoid organ that plays a key role in the immune system development. Normally, it is located in the anterior mediastinum and it changes tissue composition with progressive fatty involution with age. The spectrum of pathological processes involving the thymus include enlargement, tumour development, and cystic change. In addition, other local pathology can mimic thymic disease. Differentiating these entities can be challenging; however, recognizing key features on imaging is essential to appropriately guide further investigation and therapy. The focus of this pictorial review will be to highlight the important distinguishing features of thymic hyperplasia, thymomas, thymic cysts, thymic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs), thymolipomas, mediastinal teratomas, and other mimics of thymic disease. Knowledge of the varying imaging findings on computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging is valuable for radiologists to appropriately classify disease, avoid misdiagnosis, and expedite therapy.
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