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Pediatric Cystic Hygroma

Dallas

214-456-6040
Fax: 214-456-6320
Suite F5200

Park Cities

469-488-7000
Fax: 469-488-7001
Suite 106

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What is a Pediatric Cystic Hygroma?

A cystic hygroma (CH) is a lymphatic lesion that usually affects the head and neck and is caused by the obstruction of a lymphatic drainage pathway. Most cystic hygromas are evident at birth, with 80% to 90% of cases diagnosed before the child turns 2 years old.

What are the signs and symptoms of a Pediatric Cystic Hygroma?

Cystic hygromas are seen at birth as soft, compressible, non-tender and translucent masses. The child may also have related complications, including respiratory distress, dysphagia and fever.

How is a Pediatric Cystic Hygroma diagnosed?

During pregnancy CHS are often encountered during an abdominal ultrasound in the first trimester, and an MRI will show their size. An alpha-fetoprotein screening of the mother may help confirm diagnosis in about 50% of cases.

A prenatal diagnosis is associated with other anomalies in at least 50% of cases. These include Turner syndrome and Down syndrome. After birth, a physical exam will reveal cystic hygroma. Often, diagnosis is further confirmed by an ultrasound, which can also help to delineate the extensive nature of it beneath the skin level.   

How is a Pediatric Cystic Hygroma treated?

Respiratory distress and recurrent infections require treatment. The cyst can be aspirated as a temporary measure, to reduce its size and the pressure it places on the airway and feeding passages. The suggested treatment is surgical removal, but increasingly, some patients are treated with laser excision or radio frequency ablation.

Cystic hygroma is a manageable lesion in children. Surgery is used to excise the abnormal tissues, but in 20% of cases, it recurs. The outcome also depends on where these lesions are located. Beyond cosmetic damage, there could be an impact on the airway, nerves and blood vessels.

Pediatric Cystic Hygroma Doctors and Providers