What is the role of imaging studies in the workup of branchial cleft cyst?

Updated: Oct 30, 2018
  • Author: Chih-Ho Hong, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

A sinogram may be obtained. If a sinus tract exists, radiopaque dye can be injected to delineate the course and to examine the size of the cyst.

Ultrasonography helps to delineate the cystic nature of these lesions. [10, 11]

A contrast-enhanced CT scan shows a cystic and enhancing mass in the neck. It may aid preoperative planning and identify compromise of local structures. Note the images below.

First branchial cleft cyst, type II. Contrast-enha First branchial cleft cyst, type II. Contrast-enhanced axial computed tomography scan at the level of the hyoid bone reveals an ill-defined, nonenhancing, water attenuation mass (m) posterior to the right submandibular gland (g).
Second branchial cleft cyst. Contrast-enhanced axi Second branchial cleft cyst. Contrast-enhanced axial computed tomography scan at the level of the hyoid bone reveals a large, well-defined, nonenhancing, water attenuation mass (m) on the anterior border of the left sternocleidomastoid muscle(s).

MRI allows for finer resolution during preoperative planning. The wall may be enhancing on gadolinium scans.


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