Objective: Mesenteric cysts are rare intra-abdominal masses generally omited or briefly reported in textbooks. Their rarity had fostered a lack of information and difficulty in classification. The goal of the study is to present a simple, comprehensive, and reproducible classification of mesenteric cysts. Methods: A large review of the literature with particular attention to recent series was performed in order to identify and characterize the different groups of mesenteric cysts. Results: Although cysts of lymphatic and mesothelial origin are those most frequently encountered, they were confounded or omitted in previous classifications. However, their distinction is important because their incidence and mode of presentation differ. Lymphangiomas predominate in male children, may cause acute abdominal pain, and frequently require resection of adjacent structures. In contrast, cysts of mesothelial origin such as benign cystic mesothelioma are seen more frequently in young and middle-aged women, usually present with more indolent symptoms, and often recurs. Conclusions: A new classification based essentially on histopathological features should include the 6 following groups: (1) cysts of lymphatic origin (simple lymphatic cyst and lymphangioma); (2) cysts of mesothelial origin (simple mesothelial cyst, benign cystic mesothelioma, and malignant cystic mesothelioma); (3) cysts of enteric origin (enteric cyst and enteric duplication cyst); (4) cysts of urogenital origin; (5) mature cystic teratoma (dermoid cysts), and (6) pseudocysts (infectious and traumatic cysts).

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