Bottom line: For classifying masses, the mediastinum is divided into anterior, middle and posterior sections. Masses typically presenting in anterior mediastinum include thymomas, germ cell tumors, lymphomas and thyroid tumors. Characteristic masses in the middle compartment include lymphadenopathy, metastases, and developmental cysts in lymphoma. In the posterior compartment masses are often neurogenic tumors and esophageal neoplasms. Sometimes masses do present in atypical locations.
Image of the mediastinum and the three compartments. In: Adult Chest Surgery. [AccessSurgery]
Table 76-5 lists disorders by location in the mediastinum in The Mediastinal Mass. In: Murray and Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine, 5th ed. [MDConsult]