Thyroglossal Cyst

Thyroglossal duct cysts are the most common form of congenital neck cyst.In our necks we have a large gland called the thyroid gland which makes important thyroid hormones. Thyroglossal duct cysts may arise during the fifth week of embryonic life after the descent which passes from the back of the tongue to the resting place of the thyroid gland in the neck.

Symptoms of Thyroglossal duct cysts are:

  • stiffness in the throat
  • similar to an egg
  • No pain is observed
  • swallowing difficulty
  • visible near the breathing tube
  • swelling and redness

The accepted procedure for removal of these cysts is called the Sistrunk procedure, named for Dr. Walter Ellis Sistrunk who described the procedure in 1920. The basis of this operation is to remove (all in one specimen) the cyst, the middle third of the hyoid bone, and follow the “tract” up to the base of tongue where it is ligated with a suture.

Luckily complications are very uncommon. If they arise they are usually simple e.g. bruising, bleeding or infection of the wound which can be easily treated. The most frustrating complication is perhaps when the cyst comes back and a further operation is needed. Careful initial surgery can keep this problem to a minimum however there is always a small risk of recurrence.

There is little discomfort, the complication rate is extremely low, and the patient gets his or her suture removed about a week later and pretty much returns to normal activity, with the exception of not lifting heavy weights, sports activites, and so on, for a few weeks.

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