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Pitfalls and mimics: The many facets of normal paediatric thymus

Nausheen Khan, Dimakatso C. Thebe, Farhanah Suleman, Irma van de Werke
South African Journal of Radiology | Vol 19, No 1 | a803 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajr.v19i1.803 | © 2015 Nausheen Khan, Dimakatso C. Thebe, Farhanah Suleman, Irma van de Werke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 March 2015 | Published: 21 October 2015

About the author(s)

Nausheen Khan, Kalafong Hospital, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Dimakatso C. Thebe, Consultant Radiologist, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Farhanah Suleman, Consultant Radiologist, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Irma van de Werke, FRCR, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The thymus is a lymphatic organ that was often thought of as an organ of mystery by the ancientGreeks. A soft, pliable lymphatic organ positioned in the anterior superior mediastinum, itdoes not compress or displace the adjacent structures. It is disproportionately larger in thepaediatric population and then gradually regresses to ‘hide’ in the mediastinum as the childadvances into puberty. It regresses in size under conditions of stress and may be absent invarious congenital abnormalities such as DiGeorge syndrome and conditions of stress. Thethymus appears in a variety of shapes and sizes on a paediatric chest radiograph and at timesmay be misinterpreted as pathology. This article describes the normal thymus as it appears onpaediatric radiography, and addresses mimickers.

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