Written and peer-reviewed by physicians—but use at your own risk. Read our disclaimer.

banner image

amboss

Trusted medical answers—in seconds.

Get access to 1,000+ medical articles with instant search
and clinical tools.

Try free for 5 days

Congenital neck masses

Last updated: December 2, 2020

Summary

Congenital neck masses are developmental anomalies that can manifest either at birth or later in life, usually following a respiratory infection. The most common congenital neck masses are thyroglossal duct cysts, branchial cleft cysts, and cystic hygromas. These malformations manifest as painless neck masses that, as they grow, can cause dysphagia, respiratory distress, and neck pain by compressing surrounding structures. The location of the mass depends on the embryological structure the cyst arises from. Diagnosis is based on clinical findings and imaging results (ultrasound, CT, MRI), which also help in surgical planning. Treatment consists of complete surgical resection to prevent recurrence and complications such as infection or abscess formation.

Thyroglossal duct cyst

Thyroglossal duct cysts manifest as a painless, firm, midline neck mass that moves with swallowing and tongue movement.

Branchial cleft cyst

Branchial cleft cysts manifest as a painless, firm neck mass lateral to the midline.

Cystic hygroma

Differential diagnoses

The differential diagnoses listed here are not exhaustive.

References

  1. Acierno SP, Waldhausen JH. Congenital Cervical Cysts, Sinuses and Fistulae. Otolaryngol Clin N Am. 2007; 40 (1): p.161–176. doi: 10.1016/j.otc.2006.10.009 . | Open in Read by QxMD
  2. Jarrell BE. NMS Surgery. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ; 2015
  3. Foley DS, Fallat ME. Thyroglossal duct and other congenital midline cervical anomalies. Semin Pediatr Surg. 2006; 15 (2): p.70–75. doi: 10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2006.02.003 . | Open in Read by QxMD
  4. Sannoh S, Quezada E, Merer DM, Moscatello A, Golombek SG. Cystic hygroma and potential airway obstruction in a newborn: a case report and review of the literature. Cases Journal. 2009; 2 (1). doi: 10.1186/1757-1626-2-48 . | Open in Read by QxMD
  5. Chen Y-N, Chen C-P, Lin C-J, Chen S-W. Prenatal Ultrasound Evaluation and Outcome of Pregnancy with Fetal Cystic Hygromas and Lymphangiomas. J Med Ultrasound. 2017; 25 (1): p.12-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jmu.2017.02.001 . | Open in Read by QxMD