Tumors of the Pediatric Maxillofacial Skeleton: A 20-Year Clinical Study

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Pediatric jaw tumors are a rare clinical entity and are not well addressed in the otolaryngology literature. It is important that otolaryngologists be familiar with the clinical features, management, and outcomes associated with these lesions.


To review the clinical presentation, management, and outcomes of jaw tumors in children treated at a tertiary care academic center.


Retrospective medical record review of children 16 years or younger who presented to the departments of Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery and Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Maryland Medical Center between 1992 and 2012 and were diagnosed as having a jaw tumor. A PubMed review of literature from 1992 to 2013 on jaw tumors in children was also conducted.


Medical records were reviewed for data on symptoms, physical findings, pathologic diagnosis, intervention, and outcomes.


The medical records of 76 patients evaluated for a jaw mass were reviewed, and 20 were found to have a diagnosis of a jaw tumor. The 2 most common pathologic diagnoses were ameloblastoma (n = 5) and juvenile ossifying fibroma (n = 4). Two tumors were malignant, a rhabdomyosarcoma and a teratoma. Thirteen patients presented with evidence of a mass or swelling, 5 patients were asymptomatic with a lesion found on surveillance panoramic radiography, and 1 patient presented with epistaxis and 1 with facial weakness and pain. All tumors excluding a lymphangioma and a rhabdomyosarcoma were managed surgically. Eight patients underwent more than 1 procedure including secondary reconstruction prior to a satisfactory outcome.


Pediatric jaw tumors are rare lesions most commonly presenting with a swelling or mass. Patients can be asymptomatic with the lesion identified on routine imaging. Certain clinical features such as age, location of tumor, and presence or absence of bone and soft tissue can narrow the differential diagnosis and identify tumors that may be malignant. Incisional biopsy is an important first step. A majority of jaw tumors are benign but require surgical intervention for eradication of disease. Multiple procedures, including reconstruction, may be required for certain lesions prior to cure.

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