What is a Neck Mass?
Lump or swelling in the neck is known as a neck mass. A neck mass is very common in infants and children. When it is present at birth, it is known as a congenital neck mass, which may be due some abnormal formation during embryonic development. Most of the neck masses are not visible, until they become enlarged and painful due to infection. Cancerous neck masses are rare in children and infants, but occasionally do occur.
What are the Causes of Neck Masses in Newborn?
The various causes leading to neck masses in newborns and infants are:
Dermoid Cyst. Dermoid cysts are pockets or cavity present in the outer layer of the skin. These pockets form a mass under the skin of the neck of the newborns that contains tissues. This neck mass is visible at birth or early infancy.
Thyroglossal Duct Cyst. This is the most common type of neck mass in newborn. Thyroglossal Duct Cyst causes a neck mass, which is basically a small pocket of fluid or mucus in the neck. This neck mass in newborns generally goes undetected until it becomes swollen or infected.
Branchial Cleft Cyst. Failure to develop normally, the tissues in the neck and collarbone area appears as open spaces known as cleft sinus in the newborns. These cleft sinuses in one or both the sides of the neck of the newborn baby. The fluid drained from the sinus lead to the formation of a branchial cleft cyst or neck mass in the newborns. These cysts are painless and often occur suddenly after an internal hemorrhage.
Inflammatory Lymphadenitis. One of the common causes for neck masses in newborn is Inflammatory Lymphadenitis. Due to the bacterial and viral infection, the glands in the neck get enlarged and inflamed. This is known as lymphadenitis. Bacterial lymphadenitis is an acute occurrence and is usually unilateral.
Salivary Gland Infection. Infection in salivary gland, cause them to swell up and lead to neck masses in newborns and infants. These swollen salivary glands can be painful for the newborns and infants.
Lymphoma. Cancer of the lymph system is known as lymphoma. Lymph system is made up of vessels throughout the body which carries lymph. It is a rare occurrence and a rare cause of neck masses in newborns.
SCM (Sternocleidomastoid) Tumor of Infancy. These are the common benign neck masses seen in infants at 2 to 4 weeks of age. SCM (Sternocleidomastoid) Tumor of Infancy is a benign lesion of cells inside the sternocleidomastoid of the newborn baby and which causes the development of neck mass.
Thyroid Nodules. Thyroid gland is present at the base of the neck. Lump or swelling the thyroid gland is known as a thyroid nodule. If the abnormal cells grow in the thyroid glands, it is known as a thyroid tumor. A thyroid nodule causes neck mass in the newborn.
Congenital Goiter. Congenital goiter may occur due to defect in the synthesis of thyroxine. It is a rare condition, but it can be one of the causes of neck masses in newborn.
Treatment & Diagnosis of Neck Masses in Newborn
A medical history is taken, and physical examination is performed of the newborn and child. The medical history involves noting down the child’s age, the time period of the presence of the neck mass, history of any infection or illness, and family history of the neck mass. In the physical examination, the doctor examines the lump on the neck, feels it for redness, tenderness, warmth and draining fluid.
There are further tests, which may help complete the diagnosis of neck masses in newborn. The treatment plan for neck masses in newborn depends on the type of mass. Antibiotic treatment is given if infection is the cause of neck mass in the newborn. Thyroid replacement treatment is done if the cause of neck mass is congenital goiter in the newborn. Often surgical removal is chosen as a treatment option for neck masses in newborn and babies.