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My Father has painful swelling (Tumor type) behind left ear since last couple of weeks. Doctor suggested CT NECK PLAIN & CONTRAST. The technique used is contiguous axial section of the neck were studied from the level of the angles of the mandibles down to the first dorsal vertebra. The report shows following:

1) Ill defined fluid collection (Abscess) (33X9X10 mm) is seen superficial to the upper left sternocleidomastoid muscle
2) The left sternocleidomastoid muscle is bulky (suggestive of Inflammation) .
3) Multiple lymph nodes are seen within collection.
4) Fascial thickening is seen in the adjacent inferior pole left parotid gland with loss of Fat plane between the abscess and parotid gland.

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657231 tn?1453836403
This is a patient forum and patients cannot diagnose - we can support, guess a bit and guide, but diagnosis over the internet with limited info cannot even be done by a doctor. There can be too many factors unless it is crystal clear and often imaging does not do that.

I will do some guessing - but he has to see his doctor.  The muscle in question I happen to know from a high school anatomy class - if you move your head from side to side, it is the one that kinda sticks out from the neck as you look very far to one side. The mastoid is the bone right behind/below the ear and the sternum is in center of the chest - the muscle connects them.

Inflammed lymph nodes are not a specific condition - so it can be something or nothing. It all depends on size and all - but being near an infected area - it sounds like they are enlarged, again a layman's opinion, for the infection.

The parotid is a salivary gland.

CTs see bony things pretty well - but I would guess an MRI is the next step as that will pick up on the soft tissues much better. In my read, it sounds like he has a terrible infection, but I don't read any tumor in this report.
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