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B-mode and color Doppler imaging of different types of branchial cleft cysts in children. A multicenter study and review of the literature

Antigone Delantoni1, Merve Onder2, Kaan Orhan2

Affiliation and address for correspondence
J Ultrason 2022; 22: e174–e178
DOI: 10.15557/JoU.2022.0028

Aim: The term “branchial cleft cyst” refers to the lesions that can be considered synonymous with cervical lymphoepithelial cysts. Although relatively rare, they constitute the second major cause of head and neck pathologies in childhood. This study aimed to report the clinical presentations, diagnosis, and management of pediatric patients with the pathological diagnosis of branchial cleft cyst. Material and methods: This study was a retrospective analysis of the records of 33 patients with the diagnosis of branchial cyst, in two different university hospitals, in two different populations. Results: Thirty-three cases of branchial cleft cysts were seen in 33 patients: 17 females and 16 males. The majority (16 patients) were 2nd branchial cleft cysts. Accurate diagnosis of branchial cleft malformation was made via imaging in 20 of the 21 (95%) patients that underwent preoperative surgical ultrasonographic imaging. Conclusion: Branchial cleft cysts are frequently incorrectly diagnosed and ignored in the differential diagnosis. Thus, the diagnosis is often delayed, resulting in the mismanagement of affected patients. A branchial cyst should be suspected in any patient with a swelling in the lateral aspect of the neck, regardless of whether the swelling is solid or cystic, painful or painless. The use of ultrasonography can dramatically help clinicians with distinguishing branchial cleft cysts from other similar lesions of the head and neck.

branchial cleft cyst; Doppler ultrasonography; cervical lymphoepithelial cyst; branchial anomaly