Impact of Incision and Drainage of Infected Thyroglossal Duct Cyst on Recurrence After Sistrunk Procedure

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To determine whether incision and drainage of infected thyroglossal duct cysts (TGDCs) is associated with increased risk of recurrence after Sistrunk procedure when compared with antibiotic treatment alone.


Retrospective case review.


Tertiary referral practice.


Patients treated for thyroglossal duct remnants in a tertiary care pediatric center from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2008. Study subjects were identified using the diagnosis code for TGDC or the procedure code for excision of thyroglossal duct cyst or sinus.

Main Outcome Measures

The presence of infection, treatment of infected TGDCs, and relationship between infection, treatment of infection, and recurrence.


We identified 120 patients from 2002 through 2008 who met the search criteria. The mean age at the time of presentation was 5.1 years; at the time of surgery, 5.4 years. More than half the patients (58.2%) were male, and the most common presentation was an asymptomatic midline neck mass. Forty-nine of our patients (40.8%) had a history of infection and 6 of these (12%) required incision and drainage. The overall recurrence rate was 10.8%. Ten of the patients with preoperative infection (20%) had a recurrence compared with 3 of the 71 patients (4%) without preoperative infection (P = .002). Of all patients with recurrences, only 1 had undergone incision and drainage.


This case series suggests that preoperative infection is associated with an increased recurrence rate. Incision and drainage of an infected TGDC may not increase the risk of postoperative recurrence. The results of this case series may assist in preoperative counseling and management of infected TGDC prior to definitive surgery.

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