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Congenital Cysts

Congenital Cysts


Congenital cysts are abnormal fluid-filled sacs or structures that develop in a person's body before birth. They are present at birth and can occur in various organs or tissues such as the face, scalp, or ear.


Congenital cysts can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Abnormal development of the fetus during pregnancy

  • Genetic disorders

  • Certain infections

  • Environmental toxins


Here are common types of congenital cysts:

Thyroglossal duct cyst

This is the most common type of congenital cyst in the neck. It forms from a remnant of the thyroglossal duct, which is the structure that guides the thyroid gland from its original location in the tongue to its final location in the neck during fetal development.

Branchial cleft cyst

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This type of cyst forms from a remnant of a branchial cleft, which is a structure that is present in the neck of a developing fetus. Branchial clefts normally close before birth, but if they do not, a cyst can form.

Dermoid cyst

This type of cyst forms from a collection of skin cells. Dermoid cysts can form anywhere on the body, but they are most common in the head, neck, and back.

Epidermoid cyst

This type of cyst is similar to a dermoid cyst, but it does not contain skin appendages, such as hair follicles and sebaceous glands. Epidermoid cysts are most common on the face, neck, and chest.


The symptoms of congenital cysts can vary widely depending on their type, location, and size. Some cysts may not cause noticeable symptoms and won't require serious medical intervention, while others can lead to discomfort, pain, or complications. 


Common symptoms associated with congenital cysts include:


  • Lump or skin tag

  • Bumps that become more painful over time with swallowing

  • Swelling or tenderness on the neck

  • Skin itching and irritation

  • Skin changes such as redness, irritation, or discoloration

  • Headaches

  • Seizures

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Hearing or vision problems

  • Balance difficulties.


It's important to note that not all congenital cysts cause symptoms, and they are often discovered incidentally during medical imaging for unrelated issues.


Here are common approaches to treating or managing congenital cysts: 


If the congenital cyst is small, asymptomatic, and not causing any complications, a healthcare provider may recommend a "watch and wait" approach. This means monitoring the cyst over time with regular check-ups and imaging studies to ensure it remains stable or does not grow. Some congenital cysts may resolve on their own without the need for intervention. 


In cases where the cyst is infected or causing discomfort due to inflammation, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection and reduce inflammation. This approach is typically used for cysts that are amenable to medical management. 


Cysts that are filled with fluid and become infected or painful may require drainage. This can be done through a minimally invasive procedure, such as needle aspiration or surgical drainage. Drainage can relieve symptoms and facilitate healing. 

Surgical Removal

For larger cysts, those causing significant symptoms, or those located in critical areas (such as the brain or spinal cord), surgical removal may be necessary. Surgery is often performed to remove the entire cyst and any associated abnormal tissue. The surgical approach will depend on the cyst's location and characteristics.

Laser Therapy

Certain types of cysts, such as vascular malformations or cystic hygromas, may be treated with laser therapy to reduce their size or manage associated complications. 

The goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms, reduce the risk of complications, and improve the patient's overall quality of life. Not all congenital cysts require intervention, and some may remain stable and asymptomatic throughout a person's life.


The decision regarding treatment or management should be made on an individual basis, taking into account the specific characteristics and needs of the patient. If you suspect you or your child has a congenital cyst or are experiencing symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

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