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Semin Pediatr Surg. 2006 May;15(2):64-9.

Branchial cleft and arch anomalies in children.

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  • 1Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA.


Branchial anomalies are important lesions to consider in the differential diagnosis of head and neck masses in children. These anomalies are composed of a heterogeneous group of congenital malformations that arise from incomplete obliteration of pharyngeal clefts and pouches during embryogenesis. Although present at birth, many abnormalities do not become evident until later in infancy or childhood. It is common for branchial anomalies to become infected, causing significant morbidity. Surgical removal may be difficult, and inadequate resection of the lesion is likely to cause recurrence. Understanding the embryology and anatomy of these lesions is essential to the provision of adequate therapy.

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