Differences in management outcome for first branchial cleft anomalies: A comparison of infants and toddlers to older children

Lisa A. Brown*, Douglas Robert Johnston, Jeff C Rastatter, Brian M. Sweis, John Maddalozzo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: First branchial cleft anomalies (FBCAs) are rare and often misdiagnosed, which can delay proper management and increase surgical risks. Complete excision often requires parotidectomy with facial nerve dissection. The literature reports that younger patients more often have lesions deep to the nerve with higher rates of nerve injury. We hypothesized that the rate of nerve injury and complications in children with FBCAs was not different in those ≤2 years of age compared to those >2 years of age. Methods: Retrospective review of pediatric patients who underwent resection of histopathologically confirmed FBCAs between 2007 and 2017 at a tertiary care, pediatric hospital. Presenting symptoms, lesion classification, prior procedures, imaging techniques, extent of surgery performed, facial nerve position, and complications were reviewed and compared between patients ≤2 years of age and >2 years of age at time of surgery. Results: 43 cases of FBCAs were included in the study: 12 in the younger group and 31 in the older group. There was no difference between groups regarding the presenting symptoms, gender breakdown, lesion classification, prior procedures performed, or extent of surgery. Lesions were more commonly deep to or running between branches of the facial nerve in the younger group (33.3% vs 9.7%, p =.0496). Rates of postoperative complications and facial nerve weakness were comparable between the younger and older groups (8.3% vs 25.8%, p =.206; 25.0% vs 16.1%, p =.503). In combining the age groups, FBCAs located deep to the facial nerve had increased risk of nerve weakness postoperatively (RR 7.2) and those with a history of prior incision and drainage or resection had increased risk of postoperative complications (RR 2.36). Imaging was obtained on all subjects with accuracy rates of 80–100%. Conclusion: Presenting characteristics of FBCAs in patients ≤2 years of age and >2 years of age are comparable, but lesions in younger subjects had a greater likelihood of being deep to or coursing between branches of the facial nerve. However, the rates of facial nerve injury and postoperative complications are comparable in younger and older children, owing likely to accurate preoperative imaging and appropriate surgical planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-164
Number of pages4
JournalInternational journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology
StatePublished - Jul 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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