Congenital cystic masses of the neck: radiologic-pathologic correlation

Radiographics. 1999 Jan-Feb;19(1):121-46; quiz 152-3. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.19.1.g99ja06121.


Cervical congenital cystic masses constitute an uncommon group of lesions usually diagnosed in infancy and childhood. The most common congenital neck mass is the thyroglossal duct cyst. The diagnosis is easily established from the presence of a cystic lesion in the anterior midline portion of the neck. The vast majority of branchial cleft cysts arise from the second branchial cleft. They can occur anywhere from the oropharyngeal tonsillar fossa to the supraclavicular region of the neck. Cystic hygroma is the most common form of lymphangioma. In the neck, cystic hygromas are most commonly found in the posterior cervical space. They typically extend into adjacent structures without respecting the fascial planes. Dermoid and epidermoid cysts result from sequestration of ectodermal tissue. The floor of the mouth is the most common location in the neck. Cervical thymic cysts are very uncommon lesions and are found anywhere from the angle of the mandible down to the sternum. Laryngoceles are classified into internal, external, and mixed types and have a frequent association with laryngeal carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cysts / congenital
  • Cysts / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cysts / embryology
  • Cysts / pathology*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / congenital
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / embryology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neck / pathology*
  • Radiography