Cystic Hygromas

About Cystic Hygromas

In our body as well as blood vessels we have another system of vessels carrying ‘lymph’, a clear liquid involved in the immune system. In our body we have different types of blood vessels. The lymphatic vessels join together to drain into the large veins in the neck. Sometimes children are born with abnormalities in these lymphatic vessels and instead of narrow channels they form wide ones. These then fill with lymph fluid and form cysts (small fluid filled sacks), most usually in the neck.

Causes of Procedure

The size, location and danger of cystic hygromas varies enormously from serious problems with breathing and feeding in newborn babies which obstruct to minor cosmetic cysts in older children.

Cystic hygromas tend to slowly grow as your child ages. Episodes of sudden swelling following a cold is common due to more fluid in the cyst and generally settle down, they may also over time shrink or disappear.



There are 3 options for any cystic hygroma. The best way to decide between them is to have an MRI scan interpreted by an experienced specialist.


This is generally recommended for small lesions that are causing minor symptoms only.


If the lesion can be completely removed without damaging other structures then this will stop it returning. Your surgeon will need to evaluate whether this is possible and what risks are involved. In general terms large cysts and cysts in the neck are best candidates for surgery. Cysts in the mouth are more difficult, and Laser surgery can be used to remove cysts on the tongue.


A substance is injected into the cyst , cauing inflammation and scarring to the cyst. A smaller lump will remain but can’t fill up with fluid. This avoids surgery and often avoids a scar and risks of nerve damage are less. A general anaesthetic is usually required. There are some increased risks with sclerotherapy in including scarring and allergic reactions. Various substances are used but the most common the UK is OK432 (picibinal).