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

    A form of electromagnetic radiation with very high frequency and energy. X-rays are used to examine and make images of things such as the bones and organs inside the body.

  • Esophagram

    An esophagram, or contrast esophagram (also called a barium swallow), is a series of x-rays of your esophagus. For an esophagram, you will be asked to drink a barium sulfate liquid while x-rays are taken of the swallowing process. As the liquid moves from the mouth down to the esophagus, the physician can assess any narrowing, enlargement or abnormalities. You will most likely be asked not to eat or drink for 8 to 10 hours prior to the test.

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

    CT scans use x-ray equipment and computer processing to produce 2-dimensional images of the body. The patient lies on a table and passes through a machine that looks like a large, squared-off donut. Doctors order CT scans when they want to see a two-dimensional image of the body to look for tumors and examine lymph nodes and bone abnormalities. If contrast dye is used to improve the computer image, the patient may need to avoid eating or drinking for 4 to 6 hours before the test. Patients should tell their provider before the test if they have any allergies or kidney problems.

  • MRI Scan

    An MRI is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging that doesn't use ionizing radiation. It is painless and a harmless way of looking inside the body without using X-rays. Instead it uses a large magnet and computer to scan the body. This provides the doctor with information not available from other scans.

The physician might also recommend a:


During a bronchoscopy, your physician will give you a sedative and then pass a small, hollow tube (bronchoscope) through your nose and throat into the main airway of the lungs. He or she can then see any abnormal areas and extract a tissue sample for analysis.



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

    Thoracotomy involves the surgeon making an incision in your side, back, or in some cases between your ribs, to gain access to the desired area.

  • VATS

    VATS stands for video-assisted thorascopic surgery. This minimally invasive alternative to open chest surgery greatly reduces patient’s pain, recovery time and risk for infection. When using VATS, the physician makes tiny incisions in the patient’s chest and inserts a thorascope (a fiber-optic camera) as well as surgical instruments. As the physician turns the thorascope, its views are displayed on a video monitor to guide surgery. The surgeon has no need to stress or cut ribs, because all movements are performed at the tip of the instrument, at the point of contact with the cancerous tissue.

  • Robotic Resection

    For this procedure, your surgeon guides robotic instruments to perform the surgery while sitting at computer console a few feet away. His or her natural hand movements are conveyed to the robotic instruments, which enables precise control during your operation.