Medical Q&As

Sternocleidomastoid tumour - explain?

I would like to know if there are any relevant support groups or associations which would have any information or who would have first hand knowledge of sternocleidomastoid tumours in infants?

A sternocleidomastoid tumour is a hard immobile swelling in the sternocleidomastoid muscle that usually develops a week or two after birth. The sternocleidomastoid muscle is a strap-like muscle in the neck that is located on either side of the neck and connects the mastoid bone (behind the ear) with the upper part of the sternum or breast bone. You can see a very good illustration of this muscle by following this link: Despite the use of the term tumour this is not a cancerous condition. In this particular context the word tumour simply means swelling. The swelling in the muscle usually increases in size for a number of weeks and then gradually regresses. It has usually disappeared by the time the infant reaches its first birthday. Children with this tumour may have a torticollis, which means that the child’s neck may be slightly bent or turned to one side. The term torticollis is derived from the Latin; “torti” meaning twisted and “collis” meaning neck. Treatment consists of moving the child’s head and neck to passively stretch the affected muscle. In some cases of severe persistent torticollis surgery may be required but this is rarely necessary. I am not aware of the existence of any support groups for this condition but you might find the previously mentioned website to be of some help.