Fat-containing Lesions of the Chest


Scott C. Gaerte, MD ; Cristopher A. Meyer, MD ; Helen T. Winer-Muram, MD ; Robert D. Tarver, MD ; Dewey J. Conces, Jr, MD

Although most lesions that occur in the chest have a nonspecific soft-tissue appearance, fat-containing lesions are occasionally encountered at cross-sectional computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging. The various fat-containing lesions of the chest include parenchymal and endobronchial lesions such as hamartoma, lipoid pneumonia, and lipoma. Endobronchial hamartoma usually appears at CT as a lesion with a smooth edge, focal collections of fat, or fat collections that alternate with foci of calcification. Mediastinal fat-containing lesions include germ cell neoplasms, thymolipomas, lipomas, and liposarcomas. The most frequent CT manifestation of the germ cell neoplasm teratoma is a heterogeneous mass with soft-tissue, fluid, fat, and calcium attenuation. Cardiac lesions with fat content include lipomatous hypertrophy of the interatrial septum and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia. Diagnosis of the former is made with CT when a smooth, nonenhancing, well-marginated fat-containing lesion is identified in the interatrial septum. Finally, fat may herniate into the chest at several characteristic locations. When such a lesion is identified, the time required for differential diagnosis is significantly reduced, often allowing a definitive radiologic diagnosis. Sagittal and coronal reformatted images can add valuable information by showing diaphragmatic defects and hernia contents.