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Congenital Head and Neck Masses

What are congenital head and neck masses?

Congenital head and neck masses are lumps (cysts) in the neck, face, scalp or ear that are present at birth. Many of these should be removed to prevent infection. The most common congenital head and neck masses are dermoid cysts, branchial cleft cysts and thyroglossal duct cysts.

Dermoid cysts are usually found on the scalp, face or neck. Dermoid cysts need to be removed because they can grow larger or become infected.

Branchial cleft cysts develop in the neck of young children. Branchial cleft cysts are surgically removed to prevent infection.

Thyroglossal duct cysts are lumps in the middle of the neck near the Adam’s apple or under the chin. Removal is typically required to prevent infection.


Symptoms include lumps or bumps anywhere on the scalp, neck and head.


  • Physical exam
  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan or other imaging
  • Biopsy or removal


Many lesions are removed with surgery.

When to Call for Help

Call your pediatrician if you notice any of the above symptoms in your child.

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