To compare different surgical interventions for the treatment of extensive cervicofacial lymphangiomas and to define the minimal extent of surgery necessary to control disease.
Retrospective study. Mean ± SD follow-up was 31 ± 4 months after surgery. Surgical procedures were grouped as follows: (1) total removal, (2) subtotal removal (all cystic structures removed, small plaques of cyst walls left attached to vital structures), (3) partial removal (major cysts removed, some partially resected cystic structures left in place), and (4) incision and aspiration with subsequent compression bandage. Control of disease was defined as no recurrent or residual tumor or as recurrent or residual tumor less than 10% of initial tumor size without evidence of growth on several postoperative examinations and without clinical symptoms or aesthetic disfigurement.
Twenty-one patients with cervicofacial lymphangiomas (>3 cm in maximum diameter) without thoracic involvement were evaluated. Fifteen patients were 6 years or younger and 6 were older than 6 years. No surgery was yet performed in 3 patients, for a total of 24 surgical interventions in 18 patients.
Hospitalized care in 2 referral centers.
After total removal, disease was controlled in 5 of 5 cases; after subtotal removal, in 8 of 9 cases; after partial removal, in 1 of 7 cases; and after incision and aspiration with subsequent compression bandage, in 0 of 3 cases. Two complications were encountered—1 fully reversible paresis of the marginal branch of the facial nerve and 1 secondary healing.
Surgical removal of cervicofacial lymphangiomas is a safe treatment modality. Disease control can be achieved if all cystic structures are removed. Small plaques of cyst walls attached to vital structures may be left in place. If small cystic extensions of lymphangiomas are only opened and left in place or if lymphangiomas are only drained following compression bandage, symptomatic residual tumor or recurrence is frequent.