A branchial cleft cyst is a birth defect that appears as a lump in the neck caused by abnormal development of tissues in the neck and collarbone area. These cysts usually look like a small lump or skin tag that can drain fluid on one or both sides of the neck. Branchial cleft cysts are often surgically removed.
A lymphangioma is also a birth defect that develops as the baby grows in the womb and appears as a mass in the head or neck area. The mass consists of pieces of embryonic lymphatic tissue and other materials that carry fluid and white blood cells form together under the skin. These masses continue to grow over time and may not be noticeable until the child is older. In some cases, they may be detected through ultrasound while the baby is still in the womb.
Whenever possible, lymphangiomas should be thoroughly removed with surgical excision to reduce the risk of complications and prevent recurrence of the mass. However, because of its sensitive location, lymphangiomas can sometimes invade other structures within the neck, making complete removal difficult. Other treatment options may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy or steroids.
Thyroglossal duct cysts occur during fetal development. When the thyroid moves into place it can bring pharyngeal lining with it causing the formation of a cyst. The cyst typically isn’t noticeable until between the ages of 2 and 10, appearing as a mass in the neck that may move with swallowing. Treatment for a thyroglossal duct cyst is typically surgical, removing the cyst and reducing the risk of complications.
A hemangioma is a birthmark on the skin that looks like a bright red patch due to blood vessels grouping together under the skin. These marks are either present at birth or develop within the first few weeks of life. They can appear nearly anywhere on the body, but are most common on the face, scalp or neck. Hemangiomas are harmless and tend to fade with age, although they can cause cosmetic concern.
While hemangiomas tend to fade significantly as the child grows up, some remain visible and may be of cosmetic concern because of their prominent location or disfiguring appearance. Treatment for a hemangioma may include corticosteroid medications or laser surgery, both of which can stop the growth of or remove these birthmarks.
Treating Congenital Cysts and Tumors
Children can, in rare cases, have a cholesteatoma present at birth. This congenital defect in the middle ear is a benign tumor that tends to grow over time, causing infections and middle ear complications. The tumors do not disappear naturally, and complications tend to grow along with the cholesteatoma. They may also form because of repeated middle ear infections.
Complications from the presence of a cholesteatoma include dizziness and balance issues as well as effects on hearing and facial muscles. Surgery is typically the only way to treat a cholesteatoma, though antibiotics, ear drops, and ear cleaning may be performed first to drain the ear and reduce inflammation. These pretreatments help diagnose the growth rate of the cholesteatoma and aid in forming a surgery plan.
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