Reworking Classification of First Branchial Cleft Anomalies

John Wilson, Alok Jaju, Nitin Wadhwani, Michael Gorelik, Douglas Johnston, Jeffrey Rastatter, Bharat Bhushan, Inbal Hazkani, Iga Fudyma, John Maddalozzo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate the clinical features of first branchial cleft anomalies (BCAs) and their relationship to pre-operative imaging, pathologic data, and post-operative surveillance outcomes. Additional aims were to assess the validity of the Work classification and describe features of recurrent cysts. Methods: Records for 56 children (34 females, 22 males; age at surgery of 5.6 ± 4.4 years) collected over a 12-year period (2009–2021) were reviewed. Imaging and pathologic slides were re-reviewed in a blinded fashion by experts in those respective areas. Parents were contacted via telephone to obtain extended follow-up. An alternate classification method based on the presence (type II) or absence (type I) of parotid involvement is provided. Results: Only 55% of first BCAs could be successfully classified using Work's method. First BCAs within the parotid were more likely to present with recurrent infections, involve scarred tissue planes and lymphadenopathy, and demonstrate enlarged lymphoid follicles on pathology. The overall recurrence rate was 16%, and recurrence was 5.3 times more likely when external auditory canal cartilage was not resected. Preoperative imaging was useful for predicting the extent of surgery required and the presence of scarred tissue planes. Conclusion: First BCAs within the parotid gland involve more difficult and extensive surgical resection and the potential for morbidity related to facial nerve dissection. Appropriately aggressive surgical resection, which may include the resection of involved ear cartilage, is necessary to prevent morbidity related to recurrence. Level of Evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 134:459–465, 2024.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-465
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • first branchial cleft anomalies
  • parotidectomy
  • work classification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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