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Thyroglossal Duct Cyst Removal

(757) 668-7000



A thyroglossal duct cyst is a hard or soft bump in the middle of the throat which moves when your child swallows or sticks out his/her tongue. The thyroglossal duct should be gone before birth, but if it is not, a cyst may form, which is removed in surgery.


How you explain the surgery depends on your child’s age.

  • Very young children, three years or less, need a short, simple explanation the same day of the surgery.
  • School-age and older preschoolers should know they are coming to the hospital and that while they are sleeping the doctor will fix the lump on their throat and that when they wake up, their parents will be there.
  • Older children may need a more in-depth explanation in response to their questions.


  • Most children are fussy for the first few hours after surgery. Parents will be brought to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) soon after their child is awake.
  • Your child may get a red flushed look to his/her face and chest 1-2 hours after surgery. This blotchy red color is a normal response to medicine received during surgery.
  • There will be an incision about 2-3 inches across the middle of the neck. White tape (steri-strips) will cover the incision.
  • Sometimes a soft drain is used. A gauze dressing will be over the wound if a drain is in place. It is removed by the doctor when there is little drainage. This is often done within 24 hours.
  • The wound may be slightly puffy.
  • There will be a small amount of bloody drainage.
  • Stitches are under the skin and will dissolve.
  • Your child's temperature may be slightly increased.
  • Your child may be on antibiotics.
  • Non-aspirin pain reliever is often all that is needed for pain relief.


  • Keep the wound dry for 5-7 days.
  • The white tape (steri-strips) needs to stay on for at least 3 days. It is okay when they begin to peel off.
  • Your child should have quiet activity for the first 2-3 days after surgery.
  • Do not allow your child to do lifting or bending until you talk with your child’s doctor at your follow-up visit.
  • Your child may return to school or day care in 2-3 days, but this may be different for some children.
  • A post-operation check-up is usually scheduled for 1 to 2 weeks after surgery.
  • For any bleeding, apply pressure gently for 5 minutes.


  • Your child has noisy breathing or begins having a croupy (barky) cough/cry or wheezing. Call your child’s doctor right away.
  • Your child's wound looks red or has white or yellow drainage, or if the drainage has a foul odor.
  • There is a lot of swelling or if the wound is hot to touch or has a lump that you can feel.
  • Your child's temperature is greater than 101.5º rectally or by mouth. Slight fevers after surgery are normal. You should take your child's temperature at least once before bedtime that first night after the surgery.
  • Your child has vomiting that lasts more than 6 hours or vomiting is severe. Your child can become dehydrated when he/she has prolonged or severe vomiting and is not able to drink enough fluid to keep up with the loss.
    The signs of dehydration are: 
  • Dry mouth
  • Sunken look around eyes
  • No tears when crying
  • Decreased amount of urine would mean fewer wet diapers than usual in infant/toddler

In rare cases, thyroglossal duct cysts can return after they have been removed. Make sure your child's regular doctor knows about the surgery so he or she can look for any changes during checkups.

REMEMBER: Please call if you have any questions. Use the phone number your child’s nurse gives you.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 01/2019

(757) 668-7000