Mesenteric cysts in children

D. P. Bliss, C. M. Coffin, R. J. Bower, P. T. Stockmann, J. L. Ternberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Background. Mesenteric cysts are uncommon benign abdominal masses. Approximately one third of patients with these lesions are children. Methods. We reviewed our clinical records for the past 14 years (corresponding to the period of time in which ultrasonography and computed tomography became reliable methods for imaging pediatric patients) and found 10 patients with mesenteric cysts. Results. We were surprised to discover that abdominal pain was a presenting complaint in all but one patient. Five of the patients had the findings of an acute surgical abdomen and were thought to have appendicitis. Two patients operated on for appendicitis were transferred to our hospital with the diagnosis of an abdominal mass. In each case the mass was a mesenteric cyst. Cyst distribution included the small-bowel mesentery in seven patients, the transverse mesocolon in two patients, and the right mesocolon in one patient. Six cases required concomitant bowel resection for the cyst removal, and all were cystic lymphangiomas. The resected specimens were described as cystic lymphangiomas in eight of the 10 cases. Conclusions. Mesenteric cysts should be considered as an origin for abdominal pain in children, particularly after exclusion of more common diagnoses. We have found ultrasonographic imaging to be a reliable method for the diagnosis of appendicitis in children and advocate its use as an initial imaging study in patients with an acute surgical abdomen and presumed appendicitis. If appendicitis is indicated unlikely by ultrasonogram, the examination can be extended to the remainder of the abdomen, which can reveal mesenteric cysts or other pathologic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-577
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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