• Although mesenteric cysts and intra-abdominal cystic lymphangiomas are uncommon and clinically confusing lesions, histologic and ultrastructural evidence suggests that they are pathologically distinct. Differentiation of these lesions is important since lymphangiomas may follow a proliferative and invasive course. Of 28 cases documented at laparotomy, histologically eight patients (29%) had cystic lymphangiomas and 20 patients (71%) had mesenteric cysts. Lymphangioma was found to be exclusively a disease of childhood and young adulthood (mean age, 10 years); mesenteric cyst was found in all age groups (mean age, 44 years), and two thirds of these patients were over 40 years old. Patients with lymphangiomas more frequently were male (75% vs 30%), symptomatic (88% vs 35%), and had ascites (50% vs 0%) and larger lesions (mean, 8.8 vs 4.7 cm) when compared with patients with mesenteric cysts. Complete excision was possible in all but four patients, with no operative deaths and a postoperative complication rate of 7%. After a mean follow-up period of four years, there were no recurrences among 16 patients who had undergone complete excision.
(Arch Surg 1985;120:1266-1269)