What is the prognosis of branchial cleft cyst?

Updated: Jun 02, 2020
  • Author: Chih-Ho Hong, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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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%.

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