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Case report: A branchial cleft anomaly presenting as an oropharyngeal mass

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December 15, 2011
by David Mullin, MD and Meredith Merz, MD


Branchial anomalies are common cervical pathologic entities encountered in the field of otolaryngology and are typical in the pediatric and young adult populations. In most cases, these anomalies present as a cyst, sinus, or fistula in a rather stereotypical fashion. When a branchial anomaly deviates from the classic presentation, an improper diagnosis and inadequate management are more likely to occur, leading to an increased recurrence rate. We present a case of a 6-year-old girl with an incidental finding of a right posterior oropharyngeal wall mass, distinctly separate from the tonsillar fossa, which was found on pathologic analysis to be a branchial cleft anomaly. The theories regarding the pathogenesis of branchial anomalies are presented, along with other cases of atypical branchial anomalies.

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