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Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2000 Aug 31;54(2-3):167-72.

Third branchial cleft anomaly presenting as a retropharyngeal abscess.

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Division of Head and Neck Surgery, Department of Surgery, UCLA School of Medicine, 10833 Le Conte Ave., Room 62-158 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1624, USA.


Branchial cleft anomalies are congenital developmental defects that typically present as a soft fluctuant mass or fistulous tract along the anterior border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. However, branchial anomalies can manifest atypically, presenting diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Error or delay in diagnosis can lead to complications, recurrences, and even life-threatening emergencies. We describe a case of an infected branchial cleft cyst that progressed to a retropharyngeal abscess in a 5-week-old female patient. The clinical, radiographic, and histologic findings of this rare presentation of branchial cleft cyst are discussed.

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