Branchial Cyst: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 10/29/2021

A branchial cyst is a cavity on one side of the neck. Branchial cysts are often seen in children or young adults and are present from birth.

Branchial cysts usually do not cause problems. Signs and symptoms of a branchial cyst include a solitary, painless mass in the neck of a child or a young adult. While they are usually not tender or painful, they may be associated with intermittent swelling and tenderness of the lesion during upper respiratory tract infections. Other associated symptoms can include discharge if the lesion is associated with a sinus tract.

Cause of Branchial Cyst

A branchial cyst is caused by persistence of a remnant from embryonic development.

Other branchial cyst symptoms and signs

  • Discharge if the Lesion Is Associated with a Sinus Tract
  • Intermittent Swelling and Tenderness of the Lesion During Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
  • Solitary, Painless Mass in the Neck


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.