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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Thyroglossal tract cyst

Other Names for this Disease
  • Familial thyroglossal duct cyst
  • Hereditary thyroglossal duct cysts
  • Thyroglossal duct cysts
  • Thyroglossal duct cysts familial
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Your Question

Does thyroglossal cyst cause weight-loss? Are there treatment options other than surgery? Are young children with thyroglossal cyst suitable for surgery? What causes this condition to develop inside the womb?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is a thyroglossal duct cyst?

A thyroglossal duct cyst is a neck mass or lump that develops from cells and tissues remaining after the formation of the thyroid gland during embryonic development.[1]
Last updated: 6/20/2008

How rare are thyroglossal duct anomalies?

Thyroglossal duct anomalies are the second most common pediatric neck mass. Thyroglossal duct remnants occur in approximately 7% of the population, although only a minority of them ever cause symptoms.[2]
Last updated: 6/20/2008

Can thyroglossal duct cysts cause weight loss?

Weight loss is not commonly cited as a specific symptom of thyroglossal duct cysts, however large cysts can cause difficulty swallowing and breathing. Infected cysts may be tender with associated difficulty in swallowing, loss of voice, fever, and increasing mass size. Some patients with an infected cyst experience drainage which can result in a foul taste in the mouth.[1] These symptoms may make feedings difficult and unpleasant.

We recommend you speak with your child’s healthcare provider regarding his symptom.
Last updated: 6/20/2008

What causes thyroglossal duct cysts?

It is not clear why the thyroglossal duct fails to completely obliterate in some people or why the remnant becomes problematic in some individuals but not others.
Last updated: 6/20/2008

How might a thyroglossal duct cyst be treated?

Surgical excision is the treatment of choice for uncomplicated thyroglossal duct cysts to prevent infection of the cyst. The Sistrunk procedure can be preformed to reduce the risk of recurrence.[2] Infection of the cyst prior to surgery can make the removal more difficult and increase the chance for regrowth.[1]
Last updated: 6/20/2008

Is my young child suitable for surgery? Are there other treatment options I could consider?

The Information Center can not make recommendations for medical management. Only your child's health care provider can help you make these decisions. Factors that you and your child's provider may consider when deciding on treatment, include your child's age, overall health, and medical history, the extent of the condition, your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, expectations for the course of the condition, and your opinion or preference.[1]
Last updated: 6/20/2008