Branchial Cleft Cyst Follow-up
- Author: Chih-Ho Hong, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: William D James, MD more...
Further Outpatient Care
Postoperatively, patients should be monitored for branchial cleft cyst recurrence. Because some patients have bilateral branchial cleft cyst lesions, the contralateral side should be examined.
Untreated branchial cleft cyst lesions are prone to recurrent infection and abscess formation with resultant scar formation and possible compromise to local structures.
Complications of surgical excision of branchial cleft cysts result from damage to nearby vascular or neural structures, which include carotid vessels and the facial, hypoglossal, vagus, and lingual nerves.
There are rare case reports of malignancies having been identified in branchial cleft lesions, including branchiogenic carcinoma and papillary thyroid carcinoma.
Many branchial cleft cysts are asymptomatic. They may become tender, enlarged, or inflamed, or they may develop abscesses, especially during periods of upper respiratory tract infection, due to the lymphoid tissue located beneath the epithelium. Spontaneous rupture of an abscessed branchial cleft cyst may result in a purulent draining sinus to the skin or the pharynx.
Depending on the size and the anatomical extension of the mass, local symptoms, such as dysphagia, dysphonia, dyspnea, and stridor, may occur.
Following surgical excision of branchial cleft cysts, recurrence is uncommon, with a risk estimated at 3%, unless previous surgery or recurrent infection has occurred, in which case, it may be as high as 20%.
Patients should be reassured that branchial cleft cysts are benign.
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