A thyroglossal duct cyst is a cyst of fluid in the front of the neck, just above the “Adam’s apple” and sometimes below.

They are cysts that sometimes remain after the growth of the thyroid gland.

These cysts are present at birth and often occur in children.

About cysts:

  • The cyst is usually a painless, soft, round mass in the front of the neck.
  • It usually moves when the person swallows or sticks the tongue out.
  • Surgical removal of the cysts helps prevent inflammation that can occur.
  • They are often seen in preschool children or during adolescence.

How are they formed?

During fetal development, the thyroid gland is located at the back of the tongue.

It then migrates to the neck, passing through the hyoid bone.

The hyoid bone is located at the root of the tongue in front of the throat.

As the thyroid gland descends, it forms a small channel called the thyroglossal duct.

This duct usually disappears when the thyroid gland reaches its final position in the neck. Sometimes part of the duct remains and leaves a cyst. It swells when fluid collects inside it.


In addition to its presence, sometimes mucus can leak from a small opening in the skin (fistula). If the cyst becomes infected, it may become red and swollen.

Some people with a thyroglossal cyst may have difficulty swallowing or breathing. Sometimes people who have thyroglossal cysts can experience recurrent infection, excessive swelling or have pressure symptoms.

Surgery is the treatment when any of these symptoms occur.

Thyroglossal duct cysts may go unnoticed until they become inflamed.


A cyst often appears after an upper respiratory infection because this causes it to enlarge and become painful.

Symptoms of thyroglossal cysts can be attributed to other medical conditions and a thorough examination is necessary. Diagnostic tests may include any of the following:

  • blood test
  • sonogram
  • thyroid scintigraphy
  • FNA fine needle aspiration and puncture

Once diagnosed, the doctor should refer the patient to a specialist thyroid surgeon.


We thyroid and parathyroid surgeons routinely remove thyroglossal duct cysts to relieve the patient. Surgical removal allows further investigation. In rare cases, cancer may be present.


Treatment of an inflamed cyst is treated with antibiotics, even if surgery is planned. Infection before surgery can make removing the cyst more difficult and increases the chance of recurrence.


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Thyroid Exercises

See the exercises needed after surgical removal of thyroid and parathyroid glands.