Published: 2017-09-27

Anomalies of branchial cleft: our experience and review of literature

Neha Sisodiya Shenoy, Charu Tiwari, Suraj Gandhi, Pankaj Dwivedi, Hemanshi Shah


Background: Anomalies of branchial arches are uncommon anomalies of embryonic development and may present as cysts, sinus tracts, fistulae or cartilaginous remnants. We describe our experience with 30 children with branchial cleft anomalies.

Methods: Case records of all patients were retrospectively reviewed and analysed with respect to age, sex, clinical presentation, duration of symptoms, investigations, management and follow up. All patients underwent complete excision of the tract/cyst.

Results: There were 15 males and 15 females (ratio of 1:1). The average age of presentation was 5 years. Majority of the patients presented with discharging sinuses (n=26). Twenty-six patients had branchial sinuses, three patients had branchial cysts and one had pyriform fistula. The anomalies were lateralized to left side in 17 patients (56.66%), right side in 11 patients (36.66%) and bilateral in 2 patients (0.066%). Complete excision was done in all patients. Four patients presented with abscesses and required incision and drainage. Definitive surgery was done after 6 weeks. There were no complications.

Conclusions: Abnormal development of branchial apparatus lead to formation of different anomalies which remain asymptomatic and present later in life as cysts, sinuses or fistulae in neck. Diagnosis is mostly clinical and complete excision provides definitive cure.


Branchial apparatus, Cyst, Fistula, Sinus

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