Thyroglossal duct cyst

Thyroglossal duct cyst is a benign cyst arising from the remnants of the thyroid gland that has descended down to the lower neck during intrauterine life. This can appear at any age, common in the ages 2 to 20 years old. The incidence is estimated at 1 in 1000 and accounts for 70% of all congenital midline cysts in children. 90% of thyroglossal duct cysts present before the age of 10 years old. A thyroglossal duct cyst typically is in the middle of the neck around the hyoid bone and moves up and down when you ask the patient to swallow.

The main problem with the thyroglossal duct cyst is that it can become infected and cause an abscess or discharging sinus. There is also a small chance that it can undergo a malignant transformation in later years. Radiological evaluation with an MRI scan, CT scan or Ultrasound scanning is useful prior to surgery. Ectopic thyroid tissue within the thyroglossal duct cyst is common and occasionally this is the only functioning thyroid tissue in the neck.

Treatment that is curative is known as the Sistrunk’s procedure. In this procedure, the cyst, hyoid bone and a core of tissue in the tongue base leading to the foramen caecum, along with the tract are completely removed.