Branchial Cleft Remnant Symptoms & Causes

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What kind of branchial cleft remnant does my child have?

  • first branchial cleft anomalies - This type is rare but occurs as cysts that lie in front, behind or below the earlobe or under the jaw. A first branchial sinus has an external opening below the jaw and above the hyoid bone (a bone in the neck just above the voice box).
  • second branchial cleft sinuses - This type occurs as sinus tracts with an opening on the skin of the neck during the first 10 years of life, and as cysts during the second 10 years. A skin tag or abnormal cartilage may occasionally be present at the opening of the sinus, and occasionally the tract may be felt as a band in the neck.
  • third branchial cleft sinuses - This type is extremely rare and is often located near the thyroid and along the front part of the muscle in the neck that attaches to the collar bone.
  • fourth branchial cleft sinuses - This type is also rare and is located low in the neck (similar to the third cleft sinuses).

Is a branchial cleft remnant dangerous?

Rarely, but it can be irritating. Your child's doctor will often recommend removing it.

  • Drainage of saliva from a sinus on to the neck is unsightly and can cause chronic irritation of the skin. Removal will stop this problem.
  • Cysts and sinuses frequently get infected. Removal is performed to prevent this problem.
  • Though it doesn't happen often, branchial cleft remnants have been the site of development of malignant tumors in adults.
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