Neck masses in children: Etiopathology in a tertiary center

  • OD Osifo
  • EE Ugiagbe
Keywords: Etiopathology, children, neck masses, outcome


Background: Neck masses are common in children; they could present diagnostic challenges, and some may be malignant. This study determines the etiology, histopathology, and outcome of treatment in a Nigerian tertiary center.
Materials and Methods: This is a three-year retrospective study of children managed with neck masses at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital between January 2007 and December 2009. The biodata, side distribution of the masses, clinical conditions of the children at presentation, methods of biopsy, histopathology results, definitive treatment options, follow-up, and outcome were analyzed.
Results: A total of 35 children who were aged between one month and 16 years (mean, 8.1 ± 2.6 years) with a male : female ratio of 1.9 : 1 (23 males to 12 females) were managed with 26 (74.3%) acquired and nine (25.7%) congenital neck masses. The masses were located in the anterior triangle in 14 (40%) cases, right side of the neck in 12 (34.3%), and left side of the neck in seven (20%), with two (5.7%) bilateral/confluent. Twelve (34.3%) cases were enlarged lymph nodes; five (41.7%) of them due to malignant lesions. Except for the neck mass, 16 (45.7%) of the children enjoyed clinically stable health on presentation. Twenty (57.1%) acquired tumors were malignant compared with 15 (42.9%) mainly congenital tumors which were benign. Four malignant tumors (11.4%) were rare in anterior triangle. Hodgkin’s lymphoma, 9 (25.7%), and thyroglossal duct cyst, 5 (14.3%), were most common malignant and nonmalignant masses, respectively. Surgical excision was curative in 12 (34.3%) cases, but others required additional chemo and/or radiotherapy, with two (5.7%) mortality recorded due to late referral of children with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Conclusions: Many neck masses in otherwise healthy children in our setting were malignant. We advocate early surgical consultation and thorough histopathologic analysis of neck masses in children in our subregion.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1119-3077