Purpose: The primary and secondary aims were to investigate the prevalence of incidental mediastinal masses on low-dose chest CT examinations during health check-ups, and to review the radiological characteristics of prevascular mediastinal masses, respectively. Materials and methods: This retrospective study included 38,861 participants (mean age: 57.1 years; range: 21–99 years; men: 51.3%; never-smokers: 57.4%) who underwent low-dose chest CT examinations between January 2011 and December 2016. All images with incidental mediastinal masses were reviewed, and prevascular mediastinal masses were assessed for qualitative and quantitative imaging characteristics by two radiologists. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed in clinical and CT features between some combinations of participants. Results: Overall, 653 participants (1.68%, 653 of 38,861) had incidental mediastinal masses; 578 in prevascular mediastinum, including 93 intrathymic cysts and 24 thymic epithelial tumors. Presence of mediastinal mass was not significantly associated with sex (p = 0.089) and smoking history (p = 0.098) but with age (p < 0.001). Significant differences were found between intrathymic cysts and thymic epithelial tumors in terms of shapes (p = 0.049), contours (p = 0.018), and CT values (p = 0.012). Conclusion: The prevalence of asymptomatic mediastinal masses on low-dose chest CT was 1.68%. CT values, shapes, and contours may effectively distinguish intrathymic cysts from thymic epithelial tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas