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Correlation between pre-operative diagnosis and post-operative pathology reading in pediatric neck masses--a review of 281 cases.

OBJECTIVE: Describe the pre-operative diagnosis correlation of pediatric neck masses with the final post-operative pathology reading. Evaluate if added imaging studies were associated with higher frequency of correct diagnosis.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective case series review.

SETTING: Tertiary Academic Medical Center.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Data was collected from 281 pediatric patients with an undiagnosed neck mass that underwent open biopsy from January 1986 to December 2011. Data collection included pre-operative accuracy and relative contributions of clinical clues and imaging studies.

RESULTS: Pre-operative and post-operative diagnoses match varied for each category of diagnoses. The difference in distribution of correct pre-operative diagnoses between 6 categories of neck masses was statistically significant. The highest number of cases with correct pre-op diagnosis was seen with congenital masses which were correctly diagnosed with 75% of cases (n=109), followed by benign tumors which were diagnosed with 73.7% of cases (n=19). When CT scans were included in the pre-op work up, it was associated with a non-significant trend toward a less frequent correlation between pre and post-operative diagnosis in congenital, nodal inflammatory and miscellaneous masses. However, with regards to the diagnosis of benign tumors, CT scan was associated with a trend toward higher proportion of correct pre-op diagnosis. In cases where US was included in the evaluation, we found a trend toward less frequent correlation with post op diagnosis in benign tumors, nodal inflammatory, non-nodal inflammatory and miscellaneous diagnoses and an increase in accuracy for congenital masses.

CONCLUSION: Certain types of pediatric neck masses are easy to diagnose likely due to their classic presentation. Failure to diagnose masses often occurs when the clinical picture is vague or non-specific. Ancillary imaging studies do not always correlate with increased accuracy of diagnosis, particularly when the clinical clues are typical.

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