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Common Neck Examination exam questions for medical finals, OSCEs and MRCP PACES

Click on the the example questions below to reveal the answers


Question 1.

What are the borders of the anterior and posterior triangle?

  • Anterior triangle = midline, anterior border of sternocleidomastoid, inferior border of mandible
  • Posterior triangle = middle third of clavicle, posterior border of sternocleidomastoid, anterior border of trapezius

Question 2.

What are the common possible causes of a lump in the neck?

  • Superficial (anywhere)
    • Sebaceous cyst
    • Lipoma
    • Abscess
  • Midline
    • Thyroid lump
    • Thyroglossal cyst
    • Dermoid cyst
  • Anterior triangle
    • Lymph node
    • Thyroid lump
    • Salivary gland swelling (parotid/ submandibular)
    • Carotid artery aneurysm
    • Carotid body tumour
    • Branchial cyst
    • Sternocleidomastoid tumour
  • Posterior triangle
    • Lymph node
    • Subclavian artery aneurysm
    • Cervical rib
    • Cystic hygroma (newborns)

Question 3.

What are the possible causes of a parotid swelling?

  • Infection
    • Viral parotitis e.g. mumps (unilateral/ bilateral, painful, self-resolving)
    • Acute bacterial parotitis (unwell patient, unilateral, painful)
  • Autoimmune i.e. Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Malnutrition
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drugs e.g. anti-retroviral therapy
  • Tumours
    • Benign (80-90%)
      • Most common = pleomorphic adenoma

Question 4.

How might a lump in the neck be investigated?

  • TFTs (and Abs)
  • USS
  • FNA / core biopsy
  • Radioactive iodine uptake test


Click here for all the clinical examinations: how to examine, what to look for and how to present your findings