The pathology of extracranial scalp and skull masses in young children

Clin Neuropathol. 2004 Jan-Feb;23(1):34-43.


Objective: Extracranial subcutaneous masses involving the scalp and/or skull in young children are uncommon lesions that get excised by the neurosurgeon. Although the most common reported lesion is the dermoid cyst, our experience suggests that the spectrum of pathology in these lesions can present diagnostic challenges to the pathologist.

Material: We reviewed 30 consecutive extracranial masses from 29 patients between July 1998 and June 2003.

Method: Hematoxylin and eosin-stained sections were reviewed in all cases, and immunohistochemistry was performed in select cases.

Results: Twenty-three were within the scalp, 5 involved the scalp and skull and 2 were within the limits of the inner and outer tables of the skull. There were 8 dermoid cysts, 2 epidermoid cysts, 6 post-traumatic lesions including 3 calcified cephalhematomas and 3 pseudocysts, 5 vascular lesions including 3 capillary hemangiomas, 1 venous angioma and 1 lymphangioma, 2 cases of cranial fasciitis and 1 case each of benign teratoma, deep granuloma annulare, benign fibrous histiocytoma, congenital melanocytic nevus, hamartoma with ectopic meningothelial elements, cutaneous hyalinised ectopic meningioma and a meningocele with a fibrohistiocytic reaction. No lesions have recurred or exhibited malignant features.

Conclusions: Surgical pathologists and neuropathologists should be aware that the differential diagnosis of "lumps and bumps on babie's heads" is quite varied and can be histologically challenging.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Hamartoma / pathology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / congenital
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scalp / injuries
  • Scalp / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / congenital
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skull / injuries
  • Skull / pathology*
  • Skull Neoplasms / congenital
  • Skull Neoplasms / pathology*