Thyroglossal duct cysts in children: a 30-year survey with emphasis on clinical presentation, surgical treatment, and outcome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Thyroglossal duct cysts (TGDC) are one of the most common congenital anomalies found in the anterior neck region of children. Sistrunk's procedure, described in 1920 already, is still considered as the gold standard. However, clinical reality shows that in a minority of patients, marsupialization and simple cyst excision are still performed as well. Cyst recurrence is the most feared complication. The main goal of this retrospective study is to determine risk factors of recurrence. Furthermore, data on presentation characteristics, management and outcome were collected as well. Methods: The data of 104 patients aged between 0 and 16 years who underwent surgery for TGDC at the University Hospital of Brussels between 1986 and 2016 were retrospectively analyzed. We focused on aspects of clinical presentation, intra- and postoperative treatment and long-term follow-up. Results: Overall recurrence of TGDC was seen in twelve of the 104 cases (11.5%). Eight out of these 12 showed a preoperative infection, 4 out of 12 had intra-operative cyst rupture. Five out of the 12 patients had not been treated by the Sistrunk procedure, but by cyst excision or marsupialization only. Non-adherence to the Sistrunk procedure appeared to be the only significant risk factor of TGDC recurrence. Conclusion: Our study shows that Sistrunk's operation for thyroglossal duct cyst in pediatric patients is significantly superior in reducing the risk of cyst recurrence compared to other surgical treatments. Preoperative infection and cyst rupture did not influence the recurrence rates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-362
Number of pages6
JournalActa Chirurgica Belgica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2019


  • Thyroglossal duct cyst
  • Sistrunk
  • midline neck swelling
  • pediatric surgery

Cite this