Metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil presenting as otorrhea: A case report

January 19, 2015     Eelam Adil, MD; Dhave Setabutr, MD; Soha N. Ghossaini, MD; David Goldenberg, MD, FACS


We describe the case of a 52-year-old man with a history of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the tonsil who presented with right subacute otalgia and otorrhea. Dedicated computed tomography of the temporal bones showed opacification within the mastoid process with destruction of bony mastoid septations consistent with coalescent mastoiditis. Preoperative imaging showed no destruction or expansion of the bony eustachian tube that would indicate that a direct spread had occurred. An urgent cortical mastoidectomy was performed. Intraoperatively, a friable white mass surrounded with purulence and granulation tissue was biopsied and returned as SCC. The discrete metastasis was removed without complication. Postoperatively, the patient was prescribed palliative chemotherapy. This case shows that a metastatic SCC can be masked by an overlying mastoiditis, and thus it should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a patient with a history of oropharyngeal cancer.

Complete second branchial cleft anomaly presenting as a fistula and a tonsillar cyst: An interesting congenital anomaly

October 17, 2014     Prasad John Thottam, DO; Samba S. Bathula, MD; Janet M. Poulik, MD; David N. Madgy, DO


Branchial cleft anomalies make up 30% of all pediatric neck masses, but complete second branchial cleft anomalies are extremely rare. We report an unusual case of a complete second branchial cleft anomaly that presented as a draining neck fistula and a tonsillar cyst in an otherwise healthy 3-month-old girl. At the age of 7 months, the patient had been experiencing feeding difficulties, and there was increasing concern about the risk of persistent infections. At that point, the anomaly was excised in its entirety. Our suspicion that the patient had a complete second branchial cleft anomaly was confirmed by imaging, surgical excision, and histopathologic analysis.

Lingual tonsil abscess with parapharyngeal extension: A case report

September 17, 2014     Andrew M. Coughlin, MD; Reginald F. Baugh, MD; Harold S. Pine, MD


Lingual tonsil abscess is a rare disorder previously reported only once in the English literature. Because of their similar structure to that of the palatine tonsils, the lingual tonsils have the propensity to develop infection in the same way. The progression of infection, however, is different in that the lingual tonsils lack a capsule, thus preventing the formation of a peritonsillar abscess. Therefore, the only place for infection to spread is either into the tongue or into the parapharyngeal space. Here we present our experience with the latter, and we provide radiographic evidence of the disease. Lingual tonsil abscess, although rare, is an important potential cause of airway obstruction and must be considered in the case of a sore throat with a normal oropharyngeal exam.

Stylohyoid syndrome, also known as Eagle syndrome: An uncommon cause of facial pain

September 17, 2014     Erin L. Werhun, MD; Mandy C. Weidenhaft, MD; Enrique Palacios, MD, FACR; Harold Neitzschman, MD, FACR

Eagle syndrome is often a diagnosis of exclusion after other etiologies of pain are thoroughly investigated, and it can be determined via a physical examination and characteristic radiographic findings.

Case report: Paraneoplastic neurologic syndrome associated with squamous cell carcinoma of the tonsil

October 23, 2013     Jeffrey R. Janus, MD; Sivakumar Chinnadurai, MD; Eric J. Moore, MD


Paraneoplastic syndromes include a variety of disorders that affect the neurologic, endocrine, mucocutaneous, hematologic, and other systems as a result of neoplastic disease. Although their presentations vary, syndromes occur when tumor antigens exhibit cross-reactivity to similar antigens expressed by these systems. The antigens in the nervous system are called “onconeural” antigens. Although many disorders are associated with a comparatively high incidence of paraneoplastic neurologic syndromes, only a few cases have been associated with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the tonsil. We report the case of a 69-year-old man who initially presented with weakness and spastic gait. He was subsequently found to have a characteristic paraneoplastic tractopathy on thoracic magnetic resonance imaging. The subsequent workup and operative intervention identified a T2N0M0 SCC of the tonsil. Following resection, the patient's overall symptoms were significantly alleviated, and his gait improved. A thorough literature search yielded no other report of a tonsillar SCC with associated paraneoplastic thoracic spine tractopathy.

Tonsillar Kaposi sarcoma in a patient with membranous glomerulonephritis on immunosuppressive therapy

July 21, 2013     Nabeel Al-Brahim, FRCPC; Ashraf H. Zaki, MD; Khaled El-Merhi, MD; Mahmoud S. Ahmad, MD


Kaposi sarcoma is a malignant vascular neoplasm uncommonly seen in immunosuppressed patients. Herein we report an unusual case of tonsillar Kaposi sarcoma in a patient with membranous glomerulonephritis treated with prednisolone and cyclosporine. The patient presented after 10 months of starting the treatment with a tonsillar mass. Histological examination was typical of monomorphic spindle cell proliferation with slit-like vascular channels. The tumor cells expressed CD34, D2-40 and positive nuclear stain for HHV-8. Kaposi sarcoma is associated with immunosuppression and rarely occurs in the tonsil. Clinicians should be aware of this rare presentation of Kaposi sarcoma.

Tonsillitis with acute myeloid leukemia: A case series for caution

April 17, 2013     Jagdeep S. Thakur, MS; N.K. Mohindroo, MS, DLO; D.R. Sharma, MS; Shobha Mohindroo, MD; Anamika Thakur, MD


Worldwide, tonsillitis is very common. The most common etiology is cross-infection with bacteria and viruses. These cases are managed with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs without any further investigation because the diagnosis is based on simple clinical examination. Usually, leukemia presents with bleeding, weight loss, lymphadenopathy, fever, and frequent infection. Tonsillitis is a rare first presentation of leukemia. We present 3 cases in which the diagnosis of leukemia was made on routine examination, and in 1 case diagnosis was suspected during tonsillectomy.

A prospective study of parents' compliance with their child's prescribed analgesia following tonsillectomy

March 24, 2013     Paul Lennon, MB BCh BAO, MRCS; Mohamed Amin, FRCSI; Michael P. Colreavy, FRCS(ORL)


We conducted a prospective study to assess how well parents ensured that their children received their prescribed analgesia following tonsillectomy. Our study was based on 69 cases of tonsillectomy that were carried out at our tertiary pediatric care center. Postoperatively, all patients were prescribed paracetamol (acetaminophen) on the basis of their weight; the standard pediatric dosage of this agent at the time of our study was 60 mg/kg/day. The parents were telephoned 2 weeks postoperatively to assess their compliance with this regimen. Of the original 69 patients who had been recruited, 66 completed the study-35 girls and 31 boys, aged 2 to 15 years (mean: 7.0; median 5.5). According to the parents, only 15 children (22.7%) received our recommended 60-mg/kg/day dosage and were thus determined to be fully compliant. Overall, parents reported a wide variation in the amount of drug administered, ranging from 12.5 to 111.0 mg/kg/day (mean: 44.8), indicating that parents often underdose their children. We recommend that more emphasis be placed on weight-directed, parent-provided analgesia during the post-tonsillectomy period.

Does tonsillectomy affect the outcome of drug treatment for the eradication of gastric H pylori infection? A pilot study

March 24, 2013     Ozan Seymen Sezen, MD; Utku Kubilay, MD; Yusuf Erzin, MD; Murat Tuncer, MD; Seref Unver, MD


Eradication of Helicobacter pylori, which is associated with diverse gastroduodenal pathologies of varying severity, is sometimes challenging. We conducted a prospective study to determine the effect of tonsillectomy on the eradication of H pylori from the gastrointestinal tract. Our study population was made up of 46 patients-32 females and 14 males, aged 14 to 58 years (mean: 28.84 ± 9.65)-who had chronic tonsillitis and concomitant dyspepsia. An initial gastrointestinal endoscopy was performed to obtain specimens for histology and a rapid urease test. These gastroscopies revealed that 32 patients were H pylori-positive (69.6%) and 14 were H pylori-negative (30.4%); these groups were designated A and B, respectively. The 32 H pylori-positive patients were divided into three subgroups based on the sequence in which they underwent drug therapy and tonsillectomy. All 3 subgroups received the same 14-day combination-drug regimen for eradication of gastric H pylori. The patients in group A1 (n = 12) underwent tonsillectomy prior to receiving drug treatment; 2 months after the cessation of drug therapy, they underwent a second gastroscopy. The patients in group A2 (n = 10) received drug treatment first followed by tonsillectomy; 2 months later, they underwent their second gastroscopy. The patients in group A3 (n = 10) received drug treatment first, then they underwent a second gastroscopy, and then they were taken for tonsillectomy. The success or failure of H pylori eradication was determined by the second gastroscopy. Also, analyses were performed after tonsillectomy to look for H pylori infection in tonsillar specimens. Eradication of gastric H pylori was achieved in 9 of the 12 group A1 patients (75.0%), 8 of the 10 group A2 patients (80.0%), and 7 of the 10 group A3 patients (70.0%); there were no statistically significant differences among the three groups. Likewise, there were no significant differences between any subgroups or combination of subgroups in terms of tonsillar positivity. As far as we know, this is the first study to investigate the effect of tonsillectomy on the outcome of H pylori eradication treatment. In light of our findings, we may speculate that tonsillar tissue does not seem to be a reservoir for H pylori infection. Although tonsillectomy had no significant effect on gastric H pylori eradication in our study, our results might have been skewed by the relatively small size of our sample.

Rapidly developing iatrogenic hyponatremia in a child following tonsillectomy

October 31, 2012     Umit Taskin, MD; Omer Binay, MD; Cigdem Binay, MD; Ozgur Yigit, MD


Hyponatremia develops as a result of the inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone. In rare cases, it develops as an iatrogenic complication. For example, acute iatrogenic post-tonsillectomy hyponatremia has been described in children following the infusion of hypo- or isotonic fluid. We report a case of rapidly developing post-tonsillectomy iatrogenic hyponatremia in a 5-year-old girl following an excessive infusion of hypotonic fluid. Her signs and symptoms began with nausea and vomiting and progressed to seizures and coma. We corrected the electrolyte disturbance by infusing a 3% sodium chloride solution until her neurologic manifestations disappeared, at which time her serum sodium concentration had risen back to 135 mEq/L. Otolaryngologists are not generally exposed to much information about hyponatremia, so we must be aware of its associated neurologic signs and symptoms.

Paraganglioma of the palatine tonsil

August 10, 2012     Joshua I. Warrick, MD; David S. Brink, MD; Ronald B. Mitchell, MD


Paragangliomas of the head and neck are rare. We describe the case of an 11-year-old girl who presented with an enlarged right palatine tonsil (grade 4). After a bilateral tonsillectomy, microscopic examination of the right tonsillar tissue revealed well-formed nests of polygonal epithelial cells separated by a collagenous stroma. The tumor cell nuclei were centrally placed and featured finely clumped chromatin and moderate anisonucleosis. Occasional mitotic figures were present. No necrosis was seen. An immunohistochemical staining panel showed no label for keratin, epithelial membrane antigen, HMB-45, or Melan-A; there was a strong label of tumor cells with chromogranin A, synaptophysin, and neuron-specific enolase. The S-100 protein label was strongly positive in the surrounding stromal cells and weakly positive in the polygonal tumor cells. Given the classic histology and the immunohistochemical staining profile, the diagnosis of paraganglioma was made. At 7 months postoperatively, the patient exhibited no evidence of recurrence or metastasis. To the best of our knowledge, no case of a paraganglioma of the palatine tonsil has been previously described in the literature.

Utility of preoperative hematologic screening for pediatric adenotonsillectomy

August 10, 2012     Yekaterina A. Koshkareva, MD; Michael Cohen, MD; John P. Gaughan, PhD; Vincent Callanan, MD; Wasyl Szeremeta, MD


We conducted a 3-year retrospective study to examine the results of preoperative 
hematologic screening, the incidence of postoperative bleeding, and the possible 
relationship between the two factors in patients who had undergone tonsillectomy 
with or without adenoidectomy. Our study population was made up of 875 patients—441 
boys and 434 girls, aged 2 to 18 years (mean: 7.52 ± 4.25)—who had been treated at 
our institution from January 2004 through December 2006. In addition to demographic 
data, we compiled information on each patient’s medical and surgical history, personal 
and family history of abnormal bleeding, indication for tonsillectomy, and preoperative 
hematologic screening results. The latter included determinations of the prothrombin 
time, activated partial thromboplastin time, international normalized ratio (INR), and 
platelet count. A total of 748 patients (85.5%) had normal findings on preoperative 
hematologic screening, and 127 (14.5%) had at least one abnormality. Postoperatively, 
hemorrhagic complications occurred in 31 children (3.5%)—in 22 of the 748 patients 
with normal screening results (2.9%) and in 9 of the 127 with a screening abnormality 
(7.1%); the difference between the two groups was statistically significant (p = 0.041). 
The abnormalities in the latter group consisted of an elevated INR but no otherwise 
identifiable coagulopathy. Another 14 patients with an abnormal screening result 
(11.0%) were found to have at least one coagulopathy that was newly diagnosed during 
our preoperative evaluation; they were treated perioperatively, and none bled 
postoperatively. Of 21 patients who had a personal or family history of abnormal 
bleeding, 5 (23.8%) were found to have a coagulopathy, but none bled following surgery. 
In conclusion, we found that preoperative hematologic screening identified patients 
with undiagnosed coagulopathies, and with appropriate treatment our surgeons were able 
to prevent some bleeding events in these patients. Our finding that patients with a 
mildly elevated INR had a higher incidence of postoperative hemorrhage warrants 
further study.
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