Metastatic melanoma to retropharyngeal lymph nodes causing pharyngeal obstruction.
Wagner JD. Righi PD. Coleman JJ 3rd.
Department of Surgery, Indiana University Medical Center, Indianapolis, USA.
The finding of melanoma that has metastasized to regional lymph nodes is prognostically unfavorable. Occasionally, lymph nodes beyond the regional lymph node basin are the site of distant melanoma metastases. We present the case of a patient with melanoma who developed nonregional lymph node metastases to retropharyngeal/parapharyngeal lymph nodes, resulting in symptoms of upper aerodigestive tract obstruction. Physical examination of the head and neck, fiberoptic examination, and CT scan were abnormal. The patient underwent unilateral transcervical lymphadenectomy and resection of the obstructing retropharyngeal tumor mass. A sternocleidomastoid muscle flap was used to augment the posterior pharyngeal wall closure. The patient was able to resume full oral intake without need for a tracheostomy. Surgical intervention can play an important role in the palliation of selected patients with nonregional metastatic melanoma to the head and neck.