To determine the presentation of third or fourth branchial pouch anomalies in various age groups of children and evaluate endoscopic cauterization as a treatment technique.
Retrospective study of patients treated from 2000 to 2009.
Tertiary care children's hospital.
Pediatric patients aged 0 to 18 years (mean age, 5.5 years), including 5 neonates.
Endoscopic and/or open surgical management of third and fourth branchial pouch anomalies; clinical and endoscopic follow-up.
Main Outcome Measures
Absence of clinical recurrence; closure of the sinus tract.
Two forms of presentation were identified: a neonatal form, characterized by a voluminous and compressive cervical mass (5 of 20 [25%]) and a childhood form, presenting as a cervical abscess (15 of 20 [75%]). The vast majority of our patients regardless of presentation were treated endoscopically (n = 19), with a success rate of 68% (13 of 19) after 1 procedure, 79% (15 of 19) after 2 procedures, and 89% (17 of 19) after 3 procedures. Neonatal and adult presentations require slightly different therapeutic approaches.
Third and fourth branchial pouch anomalies can present in 2 distinct forms: a neonatal form and a childhood form. The endoscopic technique should be the favored approach for both forms: whenever possible, in view of its simplicity, rapidity, and the lack of serious postoperative complications. Recurrences can be treated by repeated cauterization using the same technique, with good long-term outcomes. An age-based management algorithm has been developed.