Case summary: A 15-year-old female presented with chest pain, dyspnea, and weight loss. A chest X-ray and subsequent CT scan revealed a large anterior mediastinal mass with cervical lymphadenopathy and pericardial effusion. Two biopsies under general anesthesia were performed, with the latter confirming classic Hodgkin lymphoma, nodular sclerosis subtype.

Discussion: This case underscores the significant clinical challenges posed by anterior mediastinal masses due to their proximity to vital cardiovascular and respiratory structures. Physiologic changes during general anesthesia can exacerbate these challenges. Preoperative assessment, including imaging and symptom evaluation, is crucial to guide operative planning. It is key to individualize the operative plan to the patient and to anticipate any potential respiratory and cardiovascular complications. This case highlights the broad and varied considerations in patients with an anterior mediastinal mass.