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Am Surg. 2005 Jun;71(6):508-11.

Thyroglossal duct cysts: a consideration in adults.

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Department of Surgery, Seton Hall University Surgical Residency Program at St. Francis Medical Center, Trenton, New Jersey, USA.


Thyroglossal duct cysts (TDC) are one of the most common pediatric midline neck lesions. Although they are present from birth, they usually become symptomatic in early childhood as a mass or draining sinus. Infection and abscess formation are frequent complications due to a communication between the cyst and the mouth with subsequent contamination by oral flora. We present a case of a 37-year-old male who presented with a newly symptomatic thyroglossal duct cyst. The patient presented to the infirmary with pain in the anterior neck particularly with swallowing. A midline mass was visible and palpable on examination. Subsequent neck exploration revealed a thyroglossal duct cyst filled with purulent material. Although uncommon in adults, thyroglossal duct cysts should be a part of the surgeon's differential diagnosis when presented with a neck mass. One should remember that an infected neck mass is the common presentation of thyroglossal duct cysts in adults, and the appropriate diagnostic studies need to be performed in order to best determine the diagnosis. Once diagnosed, the TDC is best treated using the Sistrunk procedure to limit recurrence.

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