Differential Diagnoses of Pediatric Upper Limb Masses


      Upper limb masses are one of the most common presentations in the outpatient setting. However, there is a paucity of information in the literature regarding the epidemiology of upper-extremity masses in the pediatric population. The aim of this study was to determine the differential diagnoses and clinical characteristics in children aged ≤18 years presenting with upper limb masses.


      A retrospective review of patients aged ≤18 years managed at our institution over a 5-year period was performed. We obtained information on patient demographics, clinical features, radiological investigations, intraoperative features, and histology. We also evaluated the correlation between the clinical and histopathological diagnoses in patients who underwent surgery.


      There were 141 upper limb masses in our series. The mean age at presentation was 12 years (SD, 5 years). The most common presenting complaints were asymptomatic swelling, pain, and paresthesia. The majority (128; 91%) of tumors were benign; there were 5 locally aggressive tumors and 6 malignant tumors. The dominant hand was involved in 60 patients. Of 140 patients, 43 (31%) patients had surgery. The procedures included incisional biopsy, excisional biopsy, wide resection, and reconstruction. One patient required a below elbow amputation for an osteosarcoma.


      Ten percent of cases represented malignant or locally aggressive disease. We have used our observations to develop a clinical algorithm that can assist clinicians in evaluating and managing children and adolescents presenting with upper-extremity masses.

      Type of study/level of evidence

      Prognostic IV.

      Key words

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