June 12, 2021

What is that Mass Behind the Palate?

Nasal Polyp

When a patient presents with a concern that they see something coming down from behind the palate, there are three possible answers. One is cancer which will not be discussed further. The other two possibilities which are much more common, especially in young adults and children, are either low-lying large adenoids or nasal polyps

If the mass is smooth surfaced with a somewhat translucent surface, it most likely is a nasal polyp. If it has a lumpy texture, it is probably large adenoids. Check out the pictures for an example of each.

Nasal polyps actually originate in the nasal cavity and one would only be able to see it in the mouth as shown in the picture above if they get truly enormous in size... to the point that a patient would most likely also be complaining of complete nasal obstruction as well. Treatment is typically sinus surgery though medications can be tried first.

In order for adenoids to be seen in the mouth as shown below, they typically would have to be both large AND low-lying. Again, treatment is typically surgical though medications can be tried first as well. However, if the adenoids are not causing any symptoms, an intervention is not absolutely necessary.


If the mass is on the back of the tongue rather than behind the palate, check out these pictures for an explanation.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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