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One hundred fifty-three children with a teratoma presented to one hospital between 1970 and March 1992. The clinical and pathological features of 15 patients with mediastinal teratomas are reviewed; six were newborn and nine aged from infancy to 13 years. Thirteen patients including the six newborns presented with respiratory distress and all 15 patients had a mass on chest radiograph. A definite diagnosis of teratoma was not made preoperatively in any of these patients. At operation, a median sternotomy was used to approach seven anterior tumors and a lateral thoracotomy performed in the other eight patients. Histologically two were mature, 10 had immature elements, and three were malignant teratomas. The patients with malignant tumors were all over 12 years of age and died within 6 months of treatment. All six neonates had immature teratomas. Raised serum alpha-fetoprotein levels provided useful markers in two patients with recurrent tumors. Three conclusions can be drawn: (1) mediastinal teratomas are rare in children and frequently are not diagnosed before operation; (2) in newborns these tumors may be immature and present with respiratory distress; and (3) a median sternotomy gives excellent exposure for anterior mediastinal tumors.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pediatr Surg

Publication Date





1161 - 1164


Biomarkers, Tumor, Child, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Mediastinal Neoplasms, Respiratory Insufficiency, Sternum, Teratoma, Time Factors, alpha-Fetoproteins