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Purpose of review: Teratomas are rare neoplasms composed of tissue elements derived from the germinal layers of the embryo. Although they may originate anywhere along the midline, teratomas are most commonly found in sacrococcygeal, gonadal, mediastinal, retroperitoneal, cervicofacial and intracranial locations. Clinical behavior varies significantly by site and size. The presence of immature or premalignant elements may influence therapy and long-term outcome. This report reviews the current literature with regard to the diagnosis, management and outcome of teratomas in infants and children.

Recent findings: Recently, large case series have further elucidated the biologic behavior and clinical course of these rare tumors. Emerging evidence indicates that age of diagnosis is an increasingly important prognostic feature independent of tumor location. Advances in imaging are facilitating earlier diagnosis and identification of patients at higher risk of adverse outcome. In select cases, fetal and early neonatal interventions are improving outcome and survival.

Summary: Presenting symptoms may vary widely based on location; however, independent of primary location, definitive therapy for teratomas is complete surgical resection. Early diagnosis, timely intervention and meticulous follow-up are critical in the long-term favorable outcome.

(C) 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.