Thyroglossal cyst

Benign (non-cancerous) lump in the thyroid gland

HCA UK's experts can help to diagnose and treat a range of cysts, including thyroglossal cysts

About

The thyroid gland is located in the neck and produces hormones which regulate metabolism.

The thyroid gland starts at the back of the tongue and then migrates down the neck during development, leaving the thyroglossal duct (tract). Normally this duct would disappear, but it can remain and cause swellings to develop (known as thryoglossal cysts).

Need to know

  • Symptoms of thyroglossal cysts icon plus

    Thyroglossal cysts are usually painless and move only when you swallow or stick out your tongue. However, sometimes the fluid or mucus-filled cysts (lumps) can become inflamed, which leads to noticeable swelling. Thyroglossal cysts are usually benign and very rarely become malignant (cancerous).However, you should always go to your GP or consultant if you have any swelling in your neck.

    The most common symptoms of thyroglossal cysts that need to be removed are:
    • swelling/lump in the midline of the neck
    • recurrent infection
    • pain or discomfort in the throat
    • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Thyroglossal cysts can be diagnosed in several ways. Your GP or consultant will discuss your symptoms with you. Tests they recommend may include:
    • blood test (to determine how well the thyroid gland is working)
    • biopsy (a small sample of cells may be taken from the thyroglossal cyst and examined under a microscope)
    • ultrasound of the thyroid and thyroglossal cyst
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment options for thyroglossal cysts depend on the extent of the condition and your overall health and fitness.

    These may include:
    • antibiotics to treat infection
    • surgery to remove the thyroglossal duct and cyst (known as the Sistrunk procedure), which is performed under general anaesthetic

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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