Which physical findings are characteristic of a branchial cleft cyst?

Updated: Jun 02, 2020
  • Author: Chih-Ho Hong, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Primary branchial cleft cyst lesion: Branchial cysts are smooth, nontender, fluctuant masses, which occur along the lower one third of the anteromedial border of the sternocleidomastoid muscle between the muscle and the overlying skin.

Secondary branchial cleft cyst lesion: The lesion may be tender if secondarily inflamed or infected. When associated with a sinus tract, mucoid or purulent discharge onto the skin or into the pharynx may be present.

Rarely, branchial cleft cysts have been reported as fluctuant nodules on the thorax, [8] and even in the posterior mediastinum.

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