Children's Hospital Colorado

Neck Mass Diagnosis and Management for Pediatricians (S1:E31)

Neck masses can be very alarming to parents. Fortunately, the most common presentation of a pediatric neck mass is as a benign lymph node that is swollen due to a previous viral infection, though more serious causes are possible.

Masses typically occur in toddlers and adolescents, whose relatively weakened immune systems are being bombarded with new antigens. Due to their high risk of occurrence, it's not uncommon for pediatricians to encounter these types of neck masses in children when a concerned parent makes an appointment.

Listen to a pediatric ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist discuss neck masses in children

On today's episode of Charting Pediatrics, we're discussing the diagnosis and treatment of neck masses in children. Joining us is Melissa Scholes, MD, Director of the Pediatric Balance and Vestibular Disorders Clinic at Children's Hospital Colorado.

As Dr. Scholes explains to listeners, there are a number of considerations to look at when performing an evaluation of a pediatric patient's neck mass. She explains how location, consistency, size, age and more all influence the next steps that should be taken. Oftentimes, pediatric neck masses can be treated in the primary care provider's office, though there are times when referring to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) clinic is the best course of action.

In this episode, our expert discusses:

  • The most common presentations of neck masses in children.
  • The top questions pediatricians should be asking when they encounter pediatric neck masses.
  • The various locations and types of neck masses that can be found in young patients.
  • How to evaluate and address the consistency of a neck mass.
  • The most important information to assess in the child's medical history.
  • The rise in head and neck malignancies in children today, and thoughts on why we're seeing these troubling increases.
  • Possible lab tests and imaging pediatricians can order to diagnose neck masses in children, including newer diagnostic technologies.
  • When pediatricians should send children to an ENT clinic, including insights on which types of cases merit an immediate referral.
  • Antibiotics and treatments to consider for infectious neck masses.
  • Next steps to take when the first round of antibiotics is ineffective.
  • Infectious lymph nodes and the possibility of viral etiology.

Pediatric neck mass treatment at Children's Colorado

Children with head and neck malignancies, including neck masses, are treated by our Pediatric Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat) Department. Our pediatric physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat kids using state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and research-proven treatments. Refer a patient to Children's Colorado.