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Date of last update: 8/19/2017.

Forum Name: Surgery Topics

Question: neck tumor removal

 hannahgrace - Fri Nov 25, 2005 11:49 am

I have a tumor in my neck that's estimated to be 4x4cm. It was diagnosed with CT w/ contrast ordered by an ENT. Doc wants a vascular surgeon to assist him with the removal because of the tumor's location. The tumor's on the side of my neck near the carotid artery. Just wondering what to expect. Complications/risks. What should I ask the vascular surgeon at the consult?
 Theresa Jones, RN - Sun Nov 27, 2005 8:25 am

User avatar Hi hannahgrace,
Has it been determined what the tumor may be related to, for example, lymph node, thyroid, larynx, etc?
This information would be helpful in being able to direct you in what to expect.
Theresa Jones, RN
 hannahgrace - Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:31 pm

actually, I just received a copy of the medical imaging report...
"Axial images of the neck were obtained with non-ionic intravenous contrast at appropriate intervals. There is a large enhancing mass in the left anterior cervical chain which measures 4.6 by 2.3 centimeters and extends from the level of the parotid gland distally to just above the level of the thyroid gland. There are a number of associated lymph nodes in the anterior cervical chain which measure greater than 1.0 centimeter. These lie at the level of the thyroid gland in the anterior cervical chain on the left." Then goes on to say, " : Enhancing mass, left neck, as described above. The mass lies lateral to the left jugular vein and left carotid artery. It extends from the level of the left parotid gland to just above the level of the thyroid gland. It has the appearance of a vascular mass, neurogenic tumor could have this appearance. There are a number of associated lymph nodes in the anterior cervical chain as well."
 Theresa Jones, RN - Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:31 am

User avatar Hi hannahgrace,
Here is a general link about neck dissections. This link is not to imply that this is the exact surgery you are about to have nor is it meant to imply that you have a definite malignancy. It is general patient information that will give you an outlook on what questions, etc., would be valuable.
Click here!
For instance, when you go in for your consult ask things like the following:
What kind of anesthesia (most likely it will be general) will be used, side effects, etc.
How long the surgery will last including the stay in the recovery room (so you can let your family or whomever is going to accompany you know the expected amount of time) You will probably go to an ICU (Intensive care unit) after surgery.
How large your incision is expected to be.
What method will be used to close the incision (sutures, staples, etc)
Level of discomfort during swallowing
When will you resume eating (most likely it will start out liquids
and soft foods)
Will a drain be inserted in the neck (most likely)
How long will your hospital stay be (Often 3-5 days, depending on recovery)
Will prophylactic antibiotics be used (most likely as well as IV Fluids) during your hospital stay.
What type of inhospital pain medication will be used.
Upon discharge will antibiotics and pain medication be prescribed (both should be).
Length of time it will be before a pathology report will be received and when will you be notified of the results.
Signs and symptoms of infection to watch for (fever, chills, excessive drainage, redness, warmth, increased pain, etc.)
I hope this information has been somewhat helpful and good luck and our best wishes to you. I hope that when you time permits you will consider posting a follow-up to let us know how you are doing.
Theresa Jones, RN
 hannahgrace - Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:35 am

Thanks so much. The link you provided was very helpful for a better understanding of what to possibly expect.

I'm scheduled December 19th to do presurgery interview with a nurse to get my past medical history, lab work, and meet with the anesthesiologist. And December 30th is the surgery date.

The surgeon couldn't tell me too much on what to expect since he doesn't know what exactly is growing in there. So, it's mainly a we'll have to see what we find kinda thing...

But, it's great to have a resource like this site to get answers. Thanks for all your help! I'll keep you posted on how it's goin'.
 Theresa Jones, RN - Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:10 am

User avatar Hi hannahgrace,
Thank you for those kind words and for using
I will watch for your updated post and will keep you in my prayers.
Theresa Jones, RN
 hannahgrace - Sat Dec 03, 2005 12:49 pm

Yesterday, I went through a bout of not feeling well. I had a fever-not sure what actual temp was, by the time I had a thermometer available it had been an hour or so after taking fever reducer-but my temp at that time was still 99.9 by mouth. It lasted for about 4 hours. I felt very tired-I could barely keep my eyes open but I didn't actually fall asleep. Almost felt like I was in an altered state of consciousness. Very bad headache on the left side of my head. Neck pain on left side going around to the back (but not the right side). Terrible pain in my left hand. General achiness and weakness in whole body. Thankfully, I was with my boyfriend at the time. I couldn't stand up without him holding me. Just very weak and dizzy. Then I got really nauseated. Had to sit with a bucket between my knees for an hour or so. I was out of town, but my bf thought he should take me to an urgent care center. I knew it would be kinda pointless since they don't know my medical history especially w/ the tumor and all. Doc said I prolly had something viral and sent me off. A few hours later I felt practically fine. It was just so weird! It felt like a workout signing my name a few times. Never felt anything like it. Just thought I'd see if you had any advice... maybe the doc's right, just a viral thing; but, I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. Thanks.
 Theresa Jones, RN - Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:03 am

User avatar Hi hannahgrace,
You are right, it never hurts to ask :) Your symptoms, especially since they have subsided, does sound like you may have had a viral infection. I am certainly glad to hear that you are doing better.
Theresa Jones, RN
 hannahgrace - Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:37 am

3 more days until my surgery. I can't wait for this thing to come out! My neck is becoming so stiff and achy, and I'm having a lot of tingling in my face on the left side. 3 days!!
 Theresa Jones, RN - Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:41 am

User avatar Good Luck to you Hannah. I sincerely hope that you have a smooth procedure and an uneventful, quick, recovery. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
Theresa Jones, RN
 hannahgrace - Sat Dec 31, 2005 6:10 pm

Hey. Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers.

I got to come home this afternoon. The pathology report should be back some time next week. The surgeon's top two guesses for the mass are a branchial cleft cyst or an enlarged lymph node. He removed the mass along with a lymph node. The mass was "a little larger than a hard-boiled egg" and was pushing on the carotid artery and a spinal nerve going to my left shoulder blade. I hope I'm getting all this right...I've been so drugged up! I had a drain, but hardly anything was coming out of it, so it came out midmorning today. The surgeons closed the incision with dissolving stitches beneath the skin and tape on top of the skin.

I'm feeling pretty well, considering. My left ear is totally numb; it feels so strange! I'm in moderate amount of pain with pain killers. I'm trying to sit up and stand as much as possible to help the swelling go down. That seems to help more than the drugs. I think that's about everything for now, until the pathology report comes back to let us know for sure what the mass was. I'll prolly read this in a few days and realize how little sense this makes... haha. I'll be continuing to rest and recover. Thanks for all your help.
 Theresa Jones, RN - Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:18 am

User avatar Hi hannahgrace,
You will be pleasantly surprised when you re-read your post as it makes perfect sense. I am glad to hear that your procedure went well. I would very much appreciate an update when results are available. Get well and recover soon!
Theresa Jones, RN
 hannahgrace - Tue Jan 10, 2006 6:42 pm

It's been a really rough week... :cry:

My surgery was Friday, December 30th. Actually, I have a kinda funny story. For dinner the night of my surgery, I had a liquid diet. I was still so sleepy from the anesthesia and the drugs for pain that somehow, from the time I picked up my mug of broth, till the time I got it to my mouth, I fell asleep and spilled the broth all over the front of me. Uhhh, not my finest hour!

But, anyway, I came home the next day. That night, when I came home, I started having a lot of throat pain, and I was coughing up yellow/greenish mucus. When I would lie down in my bed, my head and neck would hurt very badly. I started having really bad chest pain. I yelled for my mom (I still live at home; I'm only 19) and she came in and gave me some ibuprofen (I still had another 2 1/2 hours before I could take any more pain pills)and some mucinex. Then she took my temperature. It wasn't high, but my mom figured that was because I had just had cold water to take my pills, and she could tell by feeling me that I was feverish. She brought me a cool towel for my head and told me she thought it would be better for me to sleep with my head elevated. So, I spent the night in the recliner in the living room. This helped the swelling and the chest pain. And, again, I fell asleep mid-sip and spilled all over myself, but this time it was ice water!

Okay, so the next day is Sunday. One of the papers I had been sent home with said to call the hospital and talk with an anesthesiologist if my throat hurt for more than 24 hours after surgery. My throat was hurting so bad, I could hardly talk. So, my mom called and talked to the anesthesiologist who was on call. He said, if the tumor was a cleft branchial cyst, it was possible the surgeons had to manipulate the throat in order to get it out, which could be causing the more severe, prolonged pain. He told us if it wasn't better by the next day, or if it got worse at any point, come in to the emergency room.

Now, it's Monday morning. My throat is still hurting really bad and now my left ear has started hurting really bad. I know that the clinic in town is closed, and if I can just wait one more day, it'll save me a 30 minute drive to the hospital. But, at about 4:30 in the evening, I just could not take it any longer, and I had my mom take me in to the emergency room. The doctor there diagnosed me with a sinus infection and bronchitis and put me on a 5 day treatment of zithromax and he gave me more powerful pain pills.

So, I suffer with the pain for a couple days and by Thursday, my ear is hurting severely. My mom called the surgeon and he said he wanted to see me as soon as possible. So, he looks at the incision, my ear, my nose, my throat and he's pretty okay with how everything looks. So, we ask him why I'm in so much pain. He tells us that he's really not surprised that I'm in a lot of pain because my body had been through a beating. And he talked of how difficult it had been to get the tumor out, and how much pulling and tugging he had to do. So, he reassured me that I was on the mend. While we were there, the surgeon told us that they couldn't figure out what my tumor was, so it had to be sent to Madison, Wi. and probably woudn't know the results for 4 or 5 days.

I got a call from the hospital the hospital the next day telling me that the pathology had come back from Madison, and my tumor was a very large BENIGN lymph node! It was such a relief!

So, now it's Tuesday, 11 days since my surgery. I feel that my sinus infection and bronchitis are all cleared up, my throat is feeling much better as is my ear, but there's still a little bit of pain. My neck is still very tender, but the swelling has gone down a lot. My biggest pain is my left shoulder, the nerve that the tumor was pressing on. I have difficulty raising my hand above my head, lifting, pretty much anything with my left arm. And, although it's not painful, I still have numbness in my ear and along my jawline and other areas in my neck that's just kind of an annoyance.

But, I'm getting better! and, it's not cancer!
 Theresa Jones, RN - Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:52 am

User avatar Hi hannahgrace,
I am sorry to hear that you have had such a very difficult week. Congratulations on the great news and may you recover quickly and have a healthy, fullfilling future. Our best wishes to you and thank you so much for taking the time to update us. Great news indeed! Take care.
Theresa Jones, RN
 hannahgrace - Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:46 pm

I had my 1 month follow up today. The official diagnosis is Castleman's disease. I'm not sure what it is...any info would be appreciated. The doctor told me I'm the first positive diagnosis of the disease he's ever seen.

I'm feeling pretty well. There was so much damage and stretching to the accessory nerve that I'll have to have physical therapy to improve strength and mobility of my shoulder. But, I'm still getting better every day.
 Theresa Jones, RN - Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:45 am

User avatar Hi hannahgrace,
I'm am glad to hear that your recovery is going well. Castleman Disease, also known as giant lymph node hyperplasia, and angiofollicular lymph node hyperplasia is considered a lymphoproliferative disorder. Although it's not considered a cancer in itself, it may be treated like a cancer. I have included a weblink in this post by the the American Cancer Society that provides information regarding this disorder. An update when your time permits would be appreciated. Best wishes.
Click here!
Theresa Jones, RN

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