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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Cystic hygroma

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How might cystic hygroma be treated?

It is extremely rare for cystic hygromas to spontaneously resolve or shrink on their own.[1] Surgery to remove the cystic hygroma is recommended when possible.[2] When surgery removes all abnormal tissue, the chance of complete recovery is good. If complete removal is not obtained, the cystic hygroma will often return.[3][2]

When surgery is not possible (e.g., the hygroma is too close to an important body structure), treatment alternatives may include chemotherapy medications, injection of sclerosing medications, radiation therapy, or steroids.[3] These treatments have been attempted with limited success.[3] Examples of sclerosing medications that have been used include pure ethanol, sodium tetradecyl sulfate, doxycycline, and OK-432 (a killed strain of group A Streptococcus pyogenes).[1] Incision and drainage or aspiration of the cystic hygroma results in only temporary shrinkage.[1]
Last updated: 3/4/2010

  1. Rahbar R, McGill TJ, Mulliken JB. Vascular tumors and malformations of the head and neck. In: Cummings. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery, 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby, Inc; 2005;
  2. Warner BW. Pediatric surgery. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Foshee JC, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, 18th ed. Philadelphia PA: Saunders; 2007;
  3. Cystic hygroma. MedlinePlus. 2009; Accessed 3/4/2010.
  4. Gross E, Sichel J. Congenital Neck Lesion. Surgical Clinics of North America. April 2006;
  5. Christison-Lagay ER, Fishman SJ. Vascular Anomalies. Surgical Clinics of North America. April 2006;

Clinical Trials & Research for this Disease

  • lists trials that are studying or have studied Cystic hygroma. Click on the link to go to to read descriptions of these studies.