|Classification and external resources|
It usually presents as a midline neck lump (in the region of the hyoid bone) that is usually painless, smooth and cystic, though if infected, pain can occur. There may be difficulty breathing, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), or dyspepsia (discomfort in the upper abdomen), especially if the lump becomes large.
The most common location for a thyroglossal cyst is midline or slightly off midline, between the isthmus of the thyroid and the hyoid bone or just above the hyoid bone. A thyroglossal cyst can develop anywhere along a thyroglossal duct, though cysts within the tongue or in the floor of the mouth are rare.
A thyroglossal cyst will move upwards with protrusion of the tongue.
The thyroglossal tract arises from the foramen cecum at the junction of the anterior two-thirds and posterior one-third of the tongue. Any part of the tract can persist causing a sinus, fistula or cyst. Most fistulae are acquired following rupture or incision of the infected thyroglossal cyst. A thyroglossal cyst is lined by pseudostratified, ciliated columnar epithelium while a thyroglossal fistula is lined by columnar epithelium.
Thyroglossal duct cysts most often present with a palpable asymptomatic midline neck mass below the level of the hyoid bone. The mass on the neck moves during swallowing or on protrusion of the tongue because of its attachment to the tongue via the tract of thyroid descent. Some patients will have neck or throat pain, or dysphagia.
The persistent duct or sinus can promote oral secretions, which may cause cysts to become infected. Up to half of thyroglossal cysts are not diagnosed until adult life. The tract can lie dormant for years or even decades until some kind of stimulus leads to cystic dilation. Infection can sometimes cause the transient appearance of a mass or enlargement of the cyst, at times with periodic recurrences. Spontaneous drainage may also occur. Differential diagnosis are ectopic thyroid, enlarged lymph nodes, dermoid cysts and goiter.
Clinical features can be found in the subhyoid portion of the tract and 75% present as midline swellings. The remainder can be found as far lateral as lateral tip of the hyoid bone.
Typically, the cyst will move upwards on protrusion of the tongue, given its attachment to the embryonic duct.
Treatment for a thyroglossal cyst is called the Sistrunk procedure: surgical resection of the duct to the base of the tongue and removal of the medial segment of the hyoid bone.
Although generally benign the cyst will be removed if the patient exhibits difficulty in breathing or swallowing, or if the cyst is infected. Even if these symptoms are not present the cyst may be removed to eliminate the chance of infection or development of a carcinoma, or for cosmetic reasons if there is unsightly protrusion from the neck.
The Sistrunk procedure involves excision not only of the cyst but also of the path's tract and branches. A removal of the central portion of the hyoid bone is indicated to ensure complete removal of the tract. It is unlikely that there will be a recurrence after such an operation. The original Sistrunk paper is available on-line with a modern commentary. At times antibiotics can be indicated if there is sign of infection.
Thyroid scans and thyroid function studies are ordered preoperatively; this is important to demonstrate that normally functioning thyroid tissue is in its usual area.
- SRB's Manual of Surgery 3rd edition 2009;405;406.
- McNicoll MP, Hawkins DB, England K, Penny R, Maceri DR (1988). "Papillary carcinoma arising in a thyroglossal duct cyst". Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 99 (1): 50–54. PMID 3140182.
- "Grand Rounds - Radiology, Respiratory medicine". Retrieved 2010-08-22.
- Brewis C, Mahadevan M, Bailey CM, Drake DP (2000). "Investigation and treatment of thyroglossal cysts in children". Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 93 (1): 18–21. PMC 1288046. PMID 10700841.