Differential diagnosis of pediatric cystic neck masses

Approach to the differential diagnosis of cystic neck masses:

  • Thyroglossal duct cyst is most commonly in the midline
  • Branchial cleft cyst is most commonly lateral to the midline
  • Lymphatic malformation is a transpatial mass that is multicystic
  • Any cystic neck mass may be infected at presentation
  • Lymphadenopathy containing an abscess is usually surrounded by severe inflammatory change