Laryngeal Cysts in Adults: Simplifying Classification and Management

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Abstract

Objective

Laryngeal cysts may occur at any mucosa-lined location within the larynx and account for 5% to 10% of nonmalignant laryngeal lesions. A number of proposed classifications for laryngeal cysts exist; however, no previously published classification aims to guide management. This review analyzes contemporary laryngeal cyst management and proposes a framework for the terminology and management of cystic lesions in the larynx.

Data Sources

PubMed/Medline.

Review Methods

A primary literature search of the entire Medline database was performed for all titles of publications pertaining to laryngeal cysts and reviewed for relevance. Full manuscripts were reviewed per the relevance of their titles and abstracts, and selection into this review was according to their clinical and scientific relevance.

Conclusion

Laryngeal cysts have been associated with rapid-onset epiglottitis, dyspnea, stridor, and death; therefore, they should not be considered of little significance. Symptoms are varied and nonspecific. Laryngoscopy is the primary initial diagnostic tool. Cross-sectional imaging may be required, and future use of endolaryngeal ultrasound and optical coherence tomography may revolutionize practice. Where possible, cysts should be completely excised, and there is growing evidence that a transoral approach is superior to transcervical excision for nearly all cysts. Histology provides definitive diagnosis, and oncocytic cysts require close follow-up.

Implications for Practice

A new classification system is proposed that increases clarity in terminology, with the aim of better preparing surgeons and authors for future advances in the understanding and management of laryngeal cysts.

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