First Branchial Cleft Anomalies: Otologic Manifestations and Treatment Outcomes

Justin R. Shinn, Patricia L. Purcell, David L. Horn, Kathleen C.Y. Sie, Scott C. Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Objective. This study describes the presentation of first branchial cleft anomalies and compares outcomes of first branchial cleft with other branchial cleft anomalies with attention to otologic findings. Study Design. Case series with chart review. Setting. Pediatric tertiary care facility. Methods. Surgical databases were queried to identify children with branchial cleft anomalies. Descriptive analysis defined sample characteristics. Risk estimates were calculated using Fisher's exact test. Results. Queries identified 126 subjects: 27 (21.4%) had first branchial cleft anomalies, 80 (63.4%) had second, and 19 (15.1%) had third or fourth. Conclusions. Children with first anomalies often presented with otologic complications, including otorrhea (22.2%), otitis media (25.9%), and cholesteatoma (14.8%). Of 80 children with second branchial cleft anomalies, only 3 (3.8%) had otitis. Compared with children with second anomalies, children with first anomalies had a greater risk of requiring primary incision and drainage: 16 (59.3%) vs 2 (2.5%) (relative risk [RR], 3.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.4-5; P < .0001). They were more likely to have persistent disease after primary excision: 7 (25.9%) vs 2 (2.5%) (RR, 3; 95% CI, 1.9-5; P = .0025). They were more likely to undergo additional surgery: 8 (29.6%) vs 3 (11.1%) (RR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.8-4.7; P = .0025). Of 7 persistent first anomalies, 6 (85.7%) were medial to the facial nerve, and 4 (57.1%) required ear-specific surgery for management. Children with first branchial cleft anomalies often present with otologic complaints. They are at increased risk of persistent disease, particularly if anomalies lie medial to the facial nerve. They may require ear-specific surgery such as tympanoplasty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-512
Number of pages7
JournalOtolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • branchial cleft
  • congenital neck mass
  • otitis
  • pediatric otolaryngology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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