Thyroglossal Duct Cyst OverviewThe t

Page content

Problems with the ears, nose, and throat can be difficult to overcome because they interfere with some of the basic functions of the body. Ear conditions may make it difficult to hear or modulate the volume of a person’s speaking voice. Nasal conditions can make breathing difficult and uncomfortable. Throat conditions can cause a loss of voice, pain and discomfort, and difficulty in breathing and swallowing. One ear, nose, and throat condition that you may not have heard of is the thyroglossal duct cyst. Learn about what this type of cyst is, how it is identified, and how it can be treated for the best results.

Definition of Condition

This type of cyst develops out of tissue that was left over from the development of the thyroid gland during prenatal growth. This leftover tissue grows into a lump or mass on the neck that can become swollen and painful. Once a cyst forms, it can become filled with pus or mucus, increasing the risk of infection. If one of these cysts grows large enough, it can make it difficult to breathe or swallow properly.


The symptoms of this type of cyst often depend on the size and severity of the cyst. Basic symptoms include a small, round mass at the front of the neck; difficulty breathing; difficult swallowing; tenderness or swelling of the mass; an opening near the mass that has become infected. The larger the cyst grows, the more likely it is that swallowing and breathing will become difficult. The presence of infection also increases the discomfort associated with this condition.

Diagnosing the Condition

Several methods may be used to diagnose a thyroglossal duct cyst. If it is suspected that thyroid function is compromised, blood work will be done to assess the function of the patient’s thyroid gland. If a mass is clearly present, ultrasound may be performed on the muscle that surrounds the mass. Ultrasound uses sound waves to assess blood flow and organ function. Thyroid scans that are completed using a radioactive element can also be used to assess thyroid abnormalities.

Treatment Options

The treatment used for this type of cyst will depend on a patient’s age and general health, prognosis of the condition, and how well the patient will be able to respond to certain treatments. Typical treatments include antibiotic medications to treat infection and surgical removal of the entire cyst.


University of Virginia Health System. Ear, Nose and Throat. “Thyroglossal Duct Cyst.” Retrieved April 29, 2009.