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Alternative NamesCleft sinus
Definition Return to top
A branchial cleft cyst is a lump that develops in the neck or just below the collarbone. It is a type of birth defect.
Causes Return to top
Branchial cleft cysts form during development of the embryo. They occur when tissues in the neck and collarbone area (branchial cleft) fail to develop normally.
The birth defect may appear as open spaces called cleft sinuses, which may develop on one or both sides of the neck. A branchial cleft cyst may form from fluid drained from a sinus. The cyst or sinus can become infected.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Your baby's health care provider will be able to diagnose this condition with a physical examination. Testing is usually not necessary.
Treatment Return to top
Infected branchial cleft cysts or sinuses require antibiotic treatment. If there are persistent problems with drainage or infection, any cysts should be surgically removed.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Most branchial cleft remnants require no treatment. If surgery is required, results are usually good.
Possible Complications Return to top
Complications include infection of the cyst or sinus.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you notice a small pit, cleft, or lump in the neck or upper shoulder of your infant, especially if fluid drains from this area.
References Return to top
Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 2005:466.
Noble J. Textbook of Primary Care Medicine. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby; 2001:1772.Update Date: 10/11/2007 Updated by: Deirdre O’Reilly, MD, MPH, Neonatologist, Division of Newborn Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston and Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.