What Are Cysts?

Cysts are closed sacs or pouches that contain fluid or solid material. Cysts can be created from material left from embryonic development or may develop from an obstruction or an infection. A cyst may develop from an obstruction or possibly an infection. The location of the cyst and its contents will determine what it is called:

  • Branchial cleft cyst: Found along the side of the neck and has a mucoid discharge

  • Dermoid cyst: Commonly found on the head, neck and groin and may contain sebaceous material — the basic elements of hair, teeth and skin

  • Thyroglossal duct cyst: Found in the middle of the neck and contains mucus

Treatment of Cysts

Treatment requires removing them completely when no inflammation is present. The surgery may be done when the cyst is first seen and before there is an infection. If the cyst is found when an infection is already present, antibiotics and warm soaks to encourage drainage will be prescribed before the surgery.


Excision and removal of the cyst is a surgical procedure. Your child will be taken to an operating room and receive an anesthetic. This procedure typically does not require a hospital stay unless your child has other conditions that require post-operative care.

Children will not be allowed to have food or drink before surgery, but as soon as they awaken after surgery they will be given food and liquids. There will be a bandage and small surgi-strips at the site of the surgery, and the only care needed will be to keep the area dry after cleaning the incision site. We give your child pain medications to keep him or her comfortable the first day or two after surgery.

Young children recover quickly, so keeping them quiet with a return to normal activity after a few days is all that is commonly required.