Review Article| Volume 40, ISSUE 5, P532-535, September 1987

Ectopic thymus in the neck; a case report and review of the literature

      This paper is only available as a PDF. To read, Please Download here.


      A soft, poorly defined mass in the right upper neck of a 7-week-old boy was shown on histology to be ectopic thymus. As aberrant thymic tissue often does change into cysts or neoplasms removal is the treatment of choice. Its persistence in the upper neck seems to be very rare. Embryology, incidence, differential diagnosis and treatment are discussed with a review of the literature.


        • Barrick B.
        • O'Kell R.T.
        Thymic cysts and remnant cervical thymus.
        Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 1969; 4: 355
        • Batsakis J.G.
        Parenchymal cysts of the neck.
        in: Batsakis J.G. Tumors of the Head and Neck. 2nd Edition. Williams & Wilkins Co., Baltimore, London1979
        • Bhatnagar H.N.
        Persistent cervical parathyroid-thymus complex causing recurrent respiratory obstruction and mediastinal emphysema.
        Journal Franc¸ais d'Oto-rhino-laryngology, Audio-phonologie et Chirurgie Maxillo-faciale. 1974; 23: 690
        • Fahmy S.
        Cervical thymic cysts: Their pathogenesis and relationship to branchial cysts.
        Journal of Laryngology. 1974; 88: 47
        • Finch D.R.A.
        • Gough M.H.
        Ectopic thymic tissue presenting as a lateral cervical swelling.
        British Journal of Surgery. 1972; 59: 885
        • Hamilton W.J.
        • Boyd J.D.
        • Mossman H.W.
        Human Embryology.
        4th Edition. Heffer, Cambridge1972
        • Hinds E.A.
        • Linkner L.M.
        • Cloud D.T.
        • Trump D.S.
        Ectopic thymic tissue of the neck.
        Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 1970; 5: 460
        • Johnsen N.J.
        • Bretlau P.
        Cervical thymic cysts.
        Acta Otolaryngologica. 1976; 82: 143
        • Kaluzynski A.
        Guzek grasiczo-przytarczyczny na szyi.
        Patologia Polska. 1980; 31: 143
        • Lewis C.T.
        Ectopic thymus of the neck—report of three examples in children.
        Postgraduate Medical Journal. 1975; 51: 38
        • Lewis M.R.
        Persistence of the thymus in the cervical area.
        Journal of Pediatrics. 1962; 61: 887
        • Maisel H.
        • Yoshihara H.
        • Waggoner D.
        The cervical thymus.
        Michigan Medicine. 1975; 74: 259
        • May M.
        Neck masses in children: Diagnosis and treatment.
        Pediatric Annals. 1976; 5: 517
        • Mikal S.
        Cervical thymic cyst. Case report and review of the literature.
        Archives of Surgery. 1974; 109: 558
        • Pirkey W.P.
        Epithelioma of undescended thymus in a child.
        Archives of Otolaryngology. 1954; 59: 237
        • Ro¨ssle R.
        U¨ber gleichzeitige Missbildungen der branchiogenen Organe undu¨ber angeborenen Mangel der Epithelko¨rperchen.
        Virchows Archiv fu¨r pathologische Anatomie und Physiologie and fu¨r klinische Medizin. 1932; 283: 41
        • Shackelford G.D.
        • McAlister W.H.
        The aberrantly positioned thymus. A cause of mediastinal or neck masses in children.
        American Journal of Roentgenology, Radium Therapy and Nuclear Medicine. 1974; 120: 291
        • Tovi F.
        • Mares A.J.
        The aberrant cervical thymus. Embryology, pathology, and clinical implications.
        American Journal of Surgery. 1978; 136: 631
        • Warkany J.
        The thymus.
        in: Warkany J. Congenital Malformation. Notes and Comments. Year Book Medical Publishers, Chicago1971 (Part XII)
        • Yamashita H.
        • Murakami N.
        • Noguchi S.
        • Noguchi A.
        • Yokoyama S.
        • Moriuchi A.
        • Nakayama I.
        Cervical thymoma and incidence of cervical thymus.
        Acta Pathologica Japonica. 1983; 33: 189