Dermoid cysts of the head and neck are rare benign tumors that contain derivatives of mesoderm and ectoderm. Mature teratomas have elements from the 3 embryonic layers (including endoderm) rather than the 2 seen with the dermoid cyst.


Synonym: hamartoma, teratoid tumor


Features of a dermoid tumor or cyst:

(1) skin with hair follicles

(2) adipose tissue

(3) muscle, smooth and/or skeletal

(4) cartilage and bone

(5) minor salivary glands

(6) nerves

(7) lymph nodes


The lesion should have more than 1 type of tissue.


The lesions may be polypoid, pedunculated or sessile.


These have been described in:

(1) middle ear

(2) mastoid cavity

(3) tonsillar pillar

(4) Eustachian tube

(5) pharynx

(6) soft palate

(7) nasopharynx

(8) tongue


The diagnosis can often be suspected on imaging studies based on the presence of fat and mixed contents.


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.