Skin - Nonmelanocytic tumors
Bronchogenic cyst (cutaneous)

Author: Ghassan Tranesh, M.D. (see Authors page)
Editor: Hong Qu, M.D.

Revised: 4 October 2016, last major update January 2015

Copyright: (c) 2002-2016,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Bronchogenic cyst [title] skin

Cite this page: Bronchogenic cyst (cutaneous). website. Accessed October 17th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Bronchogenic cysts presenting in the skin are very rare, with fewer than 70 cases reported
  • Most are present at birth on the precordium or overlying the suprasternal notch
  • Occasionally occur near shoulder, back, scapula, neck, abdomen or chin or present at a later age
  • Believed to form from buds or diverticula that separate from foregut during development of the tracheobronchial tree
  • May be intrapulmonary or peripheral
  • Cutaneous bronchogenic cysts may result from subsequent sequestration outside the chest cavity following fusion of the mesenchymal bars of the sternum, or from active migration prior to fusion
Clinical features
  • 80% males
  • Variable presentation as cutaneous cystic nodule, sinus or papillomatous growth
  • Usually asymptomatic but may be tender or painful
  • Rarely are multiple
  • Treatment is surgical resection, if clinically indicated
Case reports
Clinical images

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Sinus in suprasternal notch

Sinus opening

Gross description
  • Skin nodule
Gross images

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Scapular bronchogenic cyst

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Cutaneous bronchogenic cyst occurs within dermis or subcutaneous tissue
  • Lining is usually thrown into small folds
  • Epithelium is invariably ciliated, pseudostratified cuboidal or columnar, with mucus secreting goblet cells in 50% of cases
  • May have nonciliated cuboidal, columnar and stratified squamous epithelium
  • Smooth muscle supports the mucosa in 8% of cases
  • Lymphoid follicles are found in 25% of cases, and appear to be part of a secondary inflammatory response
  • Occasionally seromucinous glands or cartilage are present
  • Cutaneous lung tissue heterotopia, in which fully developed bronchioles and alveoli are present, is considered a variant
Microscopic (histologic) images

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Pseudostratified ciliated columnar epithelium

Ciliated respiratory epithelium

Rspiratory and squamous epithelium

Cytology description
Positive stains
Differential diagnosis