What is a branchial cyst?
A cyst is a swelling with liquid inside it. The liquid in your cyst comes from the lining of the swelling. The lining is made from tissues, which were connected with your tonsil area before you were born. It is not a serious swelling.
A branchial cyst is a swelling in the neck, which has fluid inside it.
The aim of the operation is to completely remove the cyst. You will have a general anaesthetic and be completely asleep while this is done.
The swelling in the side of your neck will be gone. The cyst will be examined in the laboratory to check that it was a branchial cyst and to make sure that no further treatment is needed.
Sometimes branchial cysts can become infected. They become painful, tender and may increase in size. Removing the cyst will prevent this problem happening in the future.
Are there any alternatives?
There are no drugs or x-ray treatments that will safely get rid of the cyst. The best treatment is to completely remove the cyst with surgery.
What if you do nothing?
If you do nothing, the cyst may remain the same. It may get infected and cause you pain.
We may not be certain about the cause for the swelling. X-rays, needle tests (biopsies) and blood tests may not give a clear answer. If you do nothing and we are not sure about the cause, you could be missing out on important treatment.
Who should have it done?
Anyone with a neck cyst should have it removed and examined.
Who should not have it done?
People who have other medical conditions that would make it unsafe for them to have a general anaesthetic should not have one.
Author: Mr Robert Ruckley MB. ChB. F.R.C.S. Consultant ENT surgeon.
© Dumas Ltd 2006