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What is a branchial cyst?
A branchial cyst is a cavity that is a congenital remnant from embryologic development. It is present at birth on one side of the neck and is located just in front of the large angulated muscle on either side of the neck running from just behind the ear down to the clavicle (collarbone). This muscle is called the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The cyst may not be recognized until adolescence as it enlarges its oval shape. Such a sinus tract may either have a small dimple or skin tag at the opening. The cyst is a smooth, soft and nontender structure.
A branchial cyst is also called branchial cleft cyst.