What are Branchial Cleft Cysts?

When a fetus is developing, he or she has structures called branchial clefts between branchial arches.  These structures eventually develop into parts of the neck and jaw.  Occasionally, an abnormal cyst will form in the neck and will be present after birth.  These branchial cleft abnormalities will show up as anything from a large fluid filled mass in the neck to a small opening on the front of the neck that drains saliva because it’s connected to the inside of the throat.  Branchial cleft anomalies can become infected and should be removed.

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