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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Chest symptoms

Question: Enlarged Thymus?

 Kimmerann - Fri Sep 26, 2008 5:14 pm

My fiance is 29 and healthy as a horse on most occasions has had some unusual pains. It started in the back, then sholders, then to his neck. We thought it was pulled muscles from over doing it buidling our new house. This has been going strong for 4 months. It's as if he has a worm that goes from place to place in his body making him hurt in different places. He went to the chiropractor once a week thinking this would solve his problems. He then began noticing bruisng on his chest. Not a typical bruise. It went from the middle of his chest along to his side. he then went to another doctor. They gave him antiinflamatories and muscle relaxers. After this did not help he went to another doctor where they did chest x-rays and gave him what I call a Z-pac. The chest x-rays showed fluid around his left lung. After the Z-pac did not help, he was sent to a specialist where they did a CT test. Test came back with an unusual thymus. The doctor said it was not normal and was very enlarged. He is scheduled for a breathing treatment next week, a EKG and more blood work. He returns to the doctor two weeks from now. The doctor stated he was going to get a second opinion on it too. Which always scares me when a doctor needs a second opinion. What causes an enlarged thymus? What are the options? Should I be worried?
 Theresa Jones, RN - Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:40 pm

User avatar Hi Kimmerann,
The thymus is one of the lymphatic organs in the body which is typically the largest from birth to approximately the age of two. At this point generally speaking it begins regressing in size. This structure is important in immunity and responsible for the T lymphocytes. If an enlarged thymus was noted on a CT scan, you were told correctly in this being an abnormal finding. One of the important findings would be exactly how large, taking into consideration his age etc. Some conditions that may cause enlargement (and I am certainly not implying that this is the cause in his case but used as examples) are thymic tumor, Myasthenia Gravis, and in some cases chest pain is caused when lymphoma involves the thymus gland. Do not jump to conclusions until you have a definitive diagnosis and I am glad to hear there are more diagnostic studies underway. Keep in mind that it's okay for one professional to seek the opinion of another to be certain of a diagnosis. If your time permits an update would be appreciated. Best wishes.
Theresa Jones, RN
 Kimmerann - Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:04 pm

We did another CT today with a needle biopsy. We have to wait until next wednesday to find out about the mass. We actually got to view the first CT in motion and the doctor stated that the mass is somewhere between an orange and a softball. He is 29 and has not had any past medical problems. My question now is, if they take this out how do they do it? Our wedding is in 8 weeks, and I'm curious on recovery times and the procedures. I figure there is different ways to go about taking it out, but 'softball' size seems huge.
 Theresa Jones, RN - Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:24 pm

User avatar Hi Kimmerann,
An orange to softball size is rather large. Treatment, surgical or otherwise, will actually depend on the findings of the biopsy. If recommendation for removal of the thymus gland is suggested there are a couple of ways this can be accomplished. The least invasive one being an incision is made above the sternum or breastbone essentially at the base of the neck. The procedure may take approximately two to three hours to complete with an approximately two-twelve week recovery time depending on the procedure, complications, and general recovery. I hope this helps. Best wishes and please keep us posted.
Theresa Jones, RN

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