ENT physicians often see children for evaluation of a lump in the neck. There are a wide variety of causes for these lumps, including congenital problems, infection, and even cancer. The physicians at Peak ENT will conduct a complete examination and recommend the most appropriate testing and/or treatment for your child’s problem.
Some more common neck lumps that are encountered in children include:
Enlarged Lymph Node(s). Lymph nodes in children typically swell in response to inflammation from an infection. Reactive lymph nodes in children can become quite large. If the lymph node becomes infected itself, this is called lymphadenitis. This can be quite painful and even cause some redness and swelling of the overlying skin. Severe lymphadenitis can turn into an abscess, or collection of pus. Lymph nodes that are enlarged due to infection typically go away, or at least shrink, with resolution or treatment of the infection. Lymph nodes that steadily grow, with no other apparent cause such as infection, need to be evaluated further. This may include blood work, imaging studies such as ultrasound or even CT scan, and/or biopsy or surgical removal of the lymph node.
Thyroglossal Duct Cyst. Branchial cleft cysts develop due to congenital remnants of a certain type of epithelium in the neck. This occurs on one side of the neck rather than in the middle. The cyst may show simply as an area of swelling on the neck, or it can become inflamed or infected, often when the patient develops an upper respiratory infection (cold, flu). The treatment of this condition is surgical removal of the cyst as well as any other congenital epithelial remnant that may be connected to the cyst.
Thyroglossal Duct Cyst. Thyroglossal duct cysts occur right in the middle of the front of the neck, usually just above the Adam’s apple. These cysts develop from congenital remnants of tissue related to the development of the thyroid gland. Like branchial cleft cysts, these can swell or become inflamed/infected, often during an upper respiratory infection (cold, flu). Treatment is surgical removal of the cyst along with the associated congenital epithelial remnant. To ensure complete removal, a small piece of mid-portion of the hyoid bone (“floating” bone just above the larynx) is removed along with the cyst.