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Elastofibroma dorsi – differential diagnosis in chest wall tumours

Adrien Daigeler1*, Peter Maria Vogt2, Kay Busch2, Werner Pennekamp3, Dirk Weyhe4, Marcus Lehnhardt1, Lars Steinstraesser1, Hans-Ulrich Steinau1 and Cornelius Kuhnen5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plastic Surgery, Burn Center, Hand Center, Sarcoma Reference Center, BG-Hospital "Bergmannsheil", Ruhr-University Bochum, Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789 Bochum, Germany

2 Department of Plastic, Hand, and Reconstructive Surgery, Burn Center, Hannover Medical School, Podbielskistr. 380, 30659 Hannover, Germany

3 Institute of Diagnostic Radiology, Interventional Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, BG-Hospital "Bergmannsheil", Ruhr-University Bochum, Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789 Bochum, Germany

4 Department of Surgery, St. Josef Hospital – University Medical Center, Ruhr University of Bochum, Gudrunstr. 56, 44791Bochum, Germany

5 Pathology, BG-Hospital "Bergmannsheil", Ruhr-University Bochum, Bürkle-de-la-Camp-Platz 1, 44789 Bochum, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 39625 Hannover, Germany

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World Journal of Surgical Oncology 2007, 5:15  doi:10.1186/1477-7819-5-15

Published: 5 February 2007



Elastofibromas are benign soft tissue tumours mostly of the infrascapular region between the thoracic wall, the serratus anterior and the latissimus dorsi muscle with a prevalence of up to 24% in the elderly. The pathogenesis of the lesion is still unclear, but repetitive microtrauma by friction between the scapula and the thoracic wall may cause the reactive hyperproliferation of fibroelastic tissue.


We present a series of seven cases with elastofibroma dorsi with reference to clinical findings, further clinical course and functional results after resection, as well as recurrence. Data were obtained retrospectively by clinical examination, phone calls to the patients' general practitioners and charts review. Follow-up time ranged from four months to nine years and averaged 53 months.


The patients presented with swelling of the infrascapular region or snapping scapula. In three cases, the lesion was painful. The ratio men/women was 2/5 with a mean age of 64 years. The tumor sizes ranged from 3 to 13 cm. The typical macroscopic aspect was characterized as poorly defined fibroelastic soft tissue lesion with a white and yellow cut surface caused by intermingled remnants of fatty tissue. Microscopically, the lesions consisted of broad collagenous strands and densely packed enlarged and fragmented elastic fibres with mostly round shapes. In all patients but one, postoperative seroma (which had to be punctuated) occurred after resection; however, at follow-up time, no patient reported any decrease of function or sensation at the shoulder or the arm of the operated side. None of the patients experienced a relapse.


In differential diagnosis of soft tissue tumors located at this specific site, elastofibroma should be considered as likely diagnosis. Due to its benign behaviour, the tumor should be resected only in symptomatic patients.