Mesenteric cysts

Mesenteric cysts


It seems unclear why these form and they are rare in the fetus. They usually comprise flat or attenuated cuboidal epithelium and have a thin fibrous wall. They may rise from mesentery or omentum; rarely similar cysts can be found retroperitoneally. They may become very large and cause bowel obstruction.


This will not often be certain until after delivery. Whenever an isolated cystic area either uni- or multi- locular is seen in the abdomen the diagnosis should be entertained.

Differential Diagnosis

Other cystic masses such as reduplication cysts of the bowel should be considered. Hydronephrosis, multicystic dysplastic kidneys may cause confusion but usually renal tract abnormalities will not show isolated cystic structures.

Sonographic Features

Unilocular or multilocular cyst in the fetal abdomen

Usually isolated

May be bowel distension if cyst causes obstruction

Associated Syndromes


Chitty LS, Griffin DR In: Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology Eds. Dewbury K, Meire H, Cosgrove D. Churchill Livingstone: London, p357-358

Vanek VW, Phillips AK Retroperitoneal, mesenteric and omental cysts Arch Surg 203: 109-112