Management of pediatric second branchial fistulae: is tonsillectomy necessary?
OBJECTIVE: To describe the surgical management of second branchial fistulae that extend to the pharynx, specifically to determine whether tonsillectomy, along with surgical excision of the tract affects the rate of recurrence. METHODS: Retrospective chart review of pediatric patients (age<18) who underwent surgical excision of second branchial anomalies at a tertiary-care children's hospital between January 1, 2006 and September 1, 2011. Sinus tracts that extended to the pharynx were considered to be fistulae. RESULTS: Seventy-four patients were identified who underwent surgical excision of 85 total second branchial anomalies - 20 cysts (23.5%), 29 sinuses (34.1%), and 36 fistulae (42.4%). The 36 fistulae were removed from 32 patients, 23 males and 9 females, with an average age of 43.3 months. There were 16 right, 11 left, and 5 bilateral lesions. In 14 (43.8%) of the fistulae cases, a tonsillectomy was performed. There was only one recurrence (2.8%), which occurred 41 months postoperatively. No statistically significant difference for recurrence (p=1.0) was found between the group of patients that underwent tonsillectomy and those that did not. CONCLUSION: Pediatric branchial anomalies can present as a cyst, sinus, or fistula. They are developmental failures in the involution of the branchial apparatus during the embryologic period. Management of second branchial anomalies is with surgical excision of the tract and ligation of the terminal attachment to the pharynx. Our results suggest that the recurrence rates are not affected by whether or not an ipsilateral tonsillectomy is performed.
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