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Understanding Thyroglossal Cyst Removal

Side view of head showing a thyroglossal cyst.

A thyroglossal cyst is a type of neck lump (mass) that some people are born with. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower front of your neck. During fetal development, thyroid cells have to move down a passage called the thyroglossal duct before reaching their final location in the neck. This duct should go away before birth. If the duct remains, it can fill with fluid and mucus. This is called a thyroglossal cyst.

Why thyroglossal cyst removal is done

The procedure is most often done to prevent infection of the cyst. It may need to be done if the cyst is already infected. It may also be done if the cyst is large and causing symptoms. These can include problems breathing or swallowing.

How thyroglossal cyst removal is done

The procedure is done in a hospital or surgery center. It’s an outpatient procedure. This means you go home the same day. The time it takes to do the surgery can vary. During the procedure:

  • You lie on your back.

  • You are given anesthesia to make you fall asleep and keep you from feeling pain.

  • The surgeon makes a cut (incision) in your neck to reach the cyst.

  • The surgeon removes the cyst. He or she also removes any remaining parts of the thyroglossal duct. If present, any sinus tracts are taken out. These are the abnormal pathways that connect the cyst to the surface of the skin. The surgeon may also remove abnormal thyroid tissue. He or she also removes part of the hyoid bone. This small bone is located in your neck near the thyroid.

  • When the surgery is done, the incision is closed with stitches (sutures) or special surgical glue that holds the skin together.

Risks of thyroglossal cyst removal

  • Failure to remove the entire cyst. This may mean you need more surgery.

  • General risks of surgery, including bleeding and infection

  • Risks of anesthesia

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.