A Thyroglossal duct cyst is a pocket filled with fluid at the front part of the neck. It occurs when extra cells are left behind by the thyroid. It is a congenital condition, which means it develops on a fetus before birth. Sometimes the cysts are small and don’t present any symptoms, while on the other hand they can be big to the point of causing a multitude of issues like difficulty in swallowing or breathing.
Causes of Thyroglossal Duct Cyst
As the fetus develops, the thyroid gland, which is located at the back of the tongue moves through the Thyroglossal duct and settles on the neck below the voice box. Right before the baby is baby is born, the gland disappears. In some instances, the thyroglossal duct leaves behind some pockets, which fill with fluid, and this is when a thyroglossal duct cyst forms.
Symptoms of Thyroglossal Duct Cyst
The most common symptom of a thyroglossal duct cyst is a lump located in the front middle of the neck. This lump has a tendency to move when one sticks their tongue out, or swallows. Also, in some instances, the cyst might not be visible or have any symptoms, although if one gets an infection it may cause it to be noticeable.
Some common symptoms of a thyroglossal duct cyst include:
- Swelling and tenderness when the cyst is infected
- Redness when the cyst is swollen
- Recurring infections
- Pressure in the neck
- Difficulty while breathing or swallowing
- A possible opening in the neck
- Hoarse voice
Diagnosis of Thyroglossal Duct Cyst
By physically examining a lump on the neck, as well as the symptoms presented, a specialist can tell that it is a thyroglossal duct cyst. But to make the diagnosis conclusive, a number of tests and exams might be recommended. These include:
Blood Tests: A blood test is for determining how well the thyroid is working by measuring the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) amount.
MRI of the Neck: This is used to produce images of the tissues in the throat using magnetic resonance and radio waves.
Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA): Here, a fine needle and syringe are used to take samples of the cells from the cyst, which are then observed under a microscope.
Neck Ultrasound: An ultrasound generates images of the cyst in real time using sound waves.
X-ray: An x-ray produces 3D images of the tissues inside the throat
Treatment Options for Thyroglossal Duct Cyst
Treatment options for a thyroglossal duct cyst depend on the severity of the symptoms, general health of the patient as well as the patient’s age. The treatment options of a thyroglossal duct cyst include:
Usually, if the thyroglossal duct cyst is infected, the specialist doctor will prescribe antibiotics. This would also happen even if other modes of treatment are being considered, like surgery.
If the thyroglossal duct cyst is causing breathing and swallowing difficulties or it’s infected, then the consultant doctor might recommend a surgical procedure known as the ‘Sistrunk Procedure’ as the better option, as well for the comfort of the patient. This type of surgery usually takes about two hours, with the patient staying overnight at the hospital. During the procedure, the thyroglossal duct cyst is removed entirely from its root and sent to the laboratory for further diagnostic testing.
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