Adult vallecular cyst: thirteen-year experience

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2008 Mar;138(3):321-7. doi: 10.1016/j.otohns.2007.12.008.


Objective: To assess the characteristics of adult vallecular cyst.

Study design and settings: A retrospective chart review from a university affiliated hospital.

Subjects and methods: Clinical manifestations and airway management of 38 consecutive adult patients with vallecular cyst admitted between 1992 and 2004 were studied.

Results: Two distinct groups were identified: infected (n = 24) and noninfected (n = 14). Twenty-two (91.7%) patients of the former group had acute epiglottitis with an abrupt onset culminating in abscess formation in 19 (79.2%) and airway compromise in 9 (37.5%) compared with none in the noninfected group (P = 0.006). In 4 (18.2%) of 22 patients, the origin of the infected vallecular cyst was evident only after symptoms subsided. Three patients had recurrent acute epiglottitis. The noninfected group had a relatively prolonged mild clinical course.

Conclusions: Two types of vallecular cysts were characterized. Abscess formation was the hallmark of adult infected vallecular cyst.

Significance: To improve patient care, endoscopic follow-up is advocated. In patients with recurrent episodes of acute epiglottitis, imaging is recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Airway Obstruction / etiology
  • Cysts / complications
  • Cysts / diagnosis*
  • Cysts / therapy
  • Epiglottitis / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Diseases / complications
  • Laryngeal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Laryngeal Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed