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Thyroglossal Duct Cyst

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What is a thyroglossal duct cyst?

The thyroglossal duct forms during development of your child's thyroid before he or she is born. In most children, the thyroglossal duct disappears around 10 weeks gestation. In some children, the duct does not disappear and a cyst can form anywhere on the duct. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac. A cyst on the thyroglossal duct may show up as a small lump in the middle of your child's neck.

What do I need to know about a thyroglossal duct cyst?

Usually the cyst does not cause pain or discomfort. You may notice your child's cyst getting larger after he or she has had an upper respiratory infection. If the cyst becomes infected, you may notice any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • High-pitched breath sounds

How will my child's doctor diagnose a thyroglossal duct cyst?

Your child may need to have blood tests done, including a thyroid test. He or she may need to have an ultrasound to identify the cyst. Later, a CT scan of the neck will help healthcare providers know the size and exact location of the cyst.

How is a thyroglossal duct cyst treated?

Antibiotics are given to treat a bacterial infection. Your child's healthcare provider may send your child to a specialist. The specialist will discuss removing the cyst and duct after the infection is gone. He or she may tell you it can become infected again if the cyst is not removed.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child is having trouble breathing.

When should I call my child's doctor?

  • Your child's symptoms of infection return.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your baby's care. Learn about your baby's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your baby's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your baby. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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