Neck Masses in Children – Differential Diagnosis

Developmental

  • Branchial cleft cysts (20% of masses), present in childhood or adulthood, can get infected, anterior to SCM or pre-auricular.
  • Thyroglossal duct cysts, midline over the hyoid bone, elevate with swallowing.
  • Dermal cysts, submental or midline, move with overlying skin.

Inflammatory/Reactive

Neoplastic

  • Thyroid tumors usually in the midline.
  • Malignant masses are usually hard, irregular, non-tender and fixed.
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