Cystic hygroma is a benign disfiguring tumor of the neck, axilla, or chest wall and is thought to originate in anomalous development of the lymphatic system. Although the term cavernous lymphangioma is sometimes used, hygroma, derived from the Greek and meaning “moist tumor,” is preferred.
According to Jordan and Kindred1 the lymphatic system develops in one of the two following ways:
“There has long been a question as to whether the lymphatic channels of the embryonic body develop as centrifugal endothelial sprouts from existing venous channels or by the fusion of isolated mesenchymlined spaces, which upon fusion grow centripetally and transitionally communicate with veins, particularly the subclavian, sciatic, and renal veins.”
In a discussion of these two views it is stated:
“The alternate view, namely, that the lymphatic primordia develop from venous sprouts, is based largely on the work of Sabin. According to this view there appears in the embryo of the second month, vascular plexuses in connection with the subclavian, sciatic, and renal veins. These plexuses separate from their veins and become transformed into two paired and one unpaired lymph sacs and the unpaired retroperitoneal sac respectively. From these lymph sacs the sprouting lymphatics invade the body. The lymphatics of the head, neck, and arms grow from the jugular sacs; the lymphatics for the legs and trunk from the inguinal sacs; those for the mesentery from the retroperitoneal sac. Both views recognize the occurrence of these venous plexuses and the associated lymph sacs. According to the earlier view. . .