Branchial cleft cyst

Synonym(s)

Branchial cyst; lateral cervical cyst; branchiogenic cyst; branchioma

Definition

Epithelial cyst arising on the lateral neck from a failure of obliteration of the second branchial cleft during embryonic life

Pathogenesis

Branchial arch clefts, which normally involute by week 7 of embryonic development, become ectoderm-lined cavities; with incomplete involution, entrapped remnant forms an epithelium-lined cyst

Clinical manifestation

Asymptomatic, fluctuant nodule, occurring along the lower portion of the anterome-dial border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle between the muscle and overlying skin; sometimes becomes tender if secondarily inflamed or infected; with a sinus tract, occasional mucoid or purulent exudate

Differential diagnosis

Lymphadenopathy; vascular malformation; hemangioma; carotid body tumor; cystic hygroma; ectopic salivary or thyroid tissue

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