When interpreting masses on a CXR, it can sometimes be very difficult to discern whether a mass originates in the lung or in the mediastinum. There are a few ways that can greatly help to localize masses to the mediastinum including the following: 1. Mediastinal masses will not contain air bronchograms; and, 2. Mediastinal mass margins with the lung will be obtuse, rather than acute (see Image 1). Common mediastinal masses include lymphadenopathy and thymomas. Mediastinal masses are important for the Anesthesiologists to consider and recognize because they can cause obstruction of the tracheobronchial tree and obstruction of the pulmonary artery and superior vena cava.
Defined by: Lauren G. Powlovich, MD