Pediatric Branchial Cleft Cysts

Pediatric Branchial Cleft Cysts



Branchial cleft cysts occur in the neck area, usually just under the jaw, and develop before the baby is born. These types of cysts can be lumps, but they also can also look like pits or open spaces on either side of the neck.

Expanded Overview

The cysts usually dent or compress when pressed but do not cause pain in the baby. Doctors or parents can sometimes see some fluid, or drainage, coming out from any indentations near where the sinuses are.

Branchial cysts may get infected and inflamed which will cause redness, pain and fever.

Tests and Diagnosis

Doctors can usually diagnose branchial cleft cysts by conducting a physical exam. However, the following are needed to help the surgeon plan the procedure.


If the cyst is infected, your surgeon will usually treat this with antibiotics prior to recommending surgical resection.  Surgery is recommended for all branchial cleft cysts and involves resection of the cyst along with the tract which travels underneath the skin.  

Surgery is usually very successful, and most cysts don't come back after they are removed. Depending on the size and location of the cysts, surgeons sometimes choose to operate using minimally invasive techniques, which minimizes scarring and helps to reduce recovery time.

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