What is Thyroglossal Duct Cyst?

During early prenatal development, the thyroid gland moves from an area on the back of the tongue through the tissues of the neck to its usual location on the sides of the neck. The path through which the tissue descends (thyroglossal duct) usually resorbs, but in rare cases, a small portion of tissue (cyst) may remain, forming a thyroglossal duct cyst.

The thyroglossal duct cyst is typically noticed as an area of fullness or a lump in the midline of the neck, usually just above the voice box. This tissue can become inflamed or infected, and drain to the skin. There also is a very small risk that the tissues in the thyroglossal duct cyst may become cancerous if left untreated over a lifetime.

If your child has fullness in the middle of the neck at or above the voice box, this may represent a thyroglossal duct cyst. After careful examination of the head, neck, ears, nose and throat, additional testing may be needed to more completely evaluate the lump. Most often, an ultrasound exam will be ordered, but at times, a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may become necessary. There is no medication that can treat a thyroglossal duct cyst, but it can be removed surgically.