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Thoracic Surgery

Diseases & Conditions

Bronchogenic Cysts

Bronchogenic cysts are abnormal growths of tissue that are congenital (present from birth). They typically have thin walls and are filled with fluid or mucous. Most bronchogenic cysts are found in the mediastinum, the part of the chest cavity that separates the lungs.


Many bronchogenic cysts produce no symptoms and are diagnosed during a test for another reason. Symptoms can develop if the cyst grows large enough to press on parts of the airway, or the esophagus, or if the cyst becomes infected. Symptoms of bronchogenic cysts include fever from infection, vague respiratory problems, and trouble swallowing.


The cause of bronchogenic cysts is unknown.


Thoracic surgeons at BMC will work with the patient and their primary care physician to diagnose bronchogenic cysts. Tests that the doctor might recommend to diagnose bronchogenic cysts include:

  • X-rays
  • Esophagrams
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans,
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

The physician might also recommend a bronchoscopy, in which he or she passes a small, hollow tube (or bronchoscope) through the nose and throat into the main airway of the lungs after the patient receives a sedative. This procedure allows physicians to see any abnormalities that might be present.


After a careful evaluation of the condition, the physician will recommend the treatment that is most appropriate.. The goal of bronchogenic cyst treatment is to remove the cyst, which is called resection. There are several types of mediastinal tumor resection for cysts, including:

  • Thoracotomy, in which the surgeon makes an incision on the side, the back, or in some cases, between the ribs to gain access to the chest cavity. The surgeon then locates and removes the cyst. 
  • Video-assisted thorascopic surgery (VATS), a minimally invasive alternative to open chest surgery that involves less pain and recovery time. After giving the patient general anesthesia, the physician makes small incisions in the chest and then inserts a fiber-optic camera, called a thorascope, as well as surgical instruments. As the physician moves the thorascope around, images that provide important information are transmitted to a video monitor. The surgeon can then locate and remove the cyst.
  • Robotic resection, in which the surgeon guides robotic instruments to perform the procedure. The surgeon's hand movements guide the instruments by means of a control console and a computer.


Call: 617.638.5600
Fax: 617.638.7382

Boston Medical Center
Center for Thoracic Surgery
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Boston, MA 02118

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