A thyroglossal cyst is a benign cyst typically, that is a remnant left behind when the thyroid gland is formed in utero. It is a remnant of the descending tract that is associated with the thyroid gland as it descends in the neck to its normal position.
Typically these cysts present in the first few decades of life with an increase in size. they can become infected where they become enlarged and painful. These cysts require a careful clinical examination followed by an ultrasound related to the cyst itself but also the thyroid gland as occasionally all the thyroid tissue of the patient may be situated in this cyst.
If troublesome it is appropriate to remove the cyst, however it should b undertaken by someone who has experience in performing the operation as there is a high recurrence rate if the operation is not performed correctly. The central portion of the hyoid bone should be removed as part of the operation as during development the descending tract is intimately associated with the hyoid bone and to remove all the tract therefore, requires the removal of this portion of the hyoid bone. The operation is referred to as a Sistrunks procedure, however some people refer to it as an anterior neck dissection as this term covers a wider resection associated with a decreased incidence of recurrence.