Cystic Hygroma


In medicine, a cyst is an abnormal, usually noncancerous growth filled with liquid or a semisolid substance, sometimes causing pain.

A cystic hygroma — or lymphangioma — is a benign growth usually located in the neck or upper part of the chest and less commonly in the armpit or groin region. According to some case reports, the most common location is the posterolateral and the left area of the neck. It has a liquid content, is more common in children under two years of age, and can appear during fetal formation in the womb between 9 and 16 weeks of gestation; however, it’s usually visible on ultrasound past week 20th of the pregnancy.

Its size varies and can range from 2-3 cm (0.78-1.18 inches) to 10-12 cm (3.9-4.7 inches) in diameter.

Cyst hygroma illustration

This article has been medically reviewed by Marither Oropeza, MD — 2022-12-12

What are the symptoms of cystic hygroma?

A cystic hygroma can be asymptomatic; this is the case of babies in which, after birth, a soft tumor becomes visible that grows as the baby grows.

The most notable symptom is the volume increase in the neck, and depending on the size or the location, it can present with other symptoms due to the amount of space it occupies; these include difficulty mobilizing the neck, respiratory problems, or deformation of the face.

What causes the formation of a cystic hygroma?

Cystic hygroma may form due to an obstruction in fluid drainage from the lymphatic system, a system of tissues and blood vessels that collect and then eliminate fluids and cells from the body, usually white blood cells. The drained fluid is known as lymph.

Cystic hygromas are also known as lymphangioma or lymphatic malformations.

The formation of cystic hygromas in babies is associated with genetic and environmental factors. 50% of these are related to genetic alterations (alterations in the composition of DNA during conception), such as Turner syndrome, trisomies 13, 18, and 21, and Noonan syndrome.

Environmental factors that can lead to the formation of cystic hygroma are drug or alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Cystic hygromas in adults are associated with previous trauma in the tumor area.

Cystic hygroma: Diagnosis

During pregnancy, it’s possible to see the formation of a lump with a cystic appearance on the neck of the developing fetus from 20 weeks of gestation on a routine ultrasound. Suspecting a cystic hygroma, the doctor will recommend complementary studies such as amniocentesis, which is the extraction of amniotic fluid from the gestational sac to screen for genetic abnormalities.

While studying a cystic hygroma during pregnancy, it’s essential to consider all compatible diagnoses: meningocele, encephalocele, cervical teratoma, nuchal edema, pseudomembranes, hemangioma, and subchorionic cyst of the placenta. All these would show an increase in volume with a cystic appearance on an ultrasound. In the case of meningocele, the ultrasound may show a tumor in the posterior part of the fetus, especially at the lumbar or sacral level. An encephalocele looks like a lump at the level of the skull.

Nuchal edema is an ultrasound finding characterized by the thickening of a fold located in the fetal neck region; this finding indicates there’s a possibility that the fetus has trisomy 21. The most important differential diagnosis is cervical teratoma because it can present in the exact location of the cystic hygroma, and the treatment is the same. In many cases, the pathological anatomy after extirpation verifies the finding and differentiates it between both diagnoses.

Other complementary studies in children or adults are chest x-ray, ultrasound, and computerized axial tomography or magnetic resonance.

Cystic hygroma: Treatment

The primary treatment for cystic hygroma is surgical removal, and if diagnosed during pregnancy, the attending physician will provide the necessary recommendations to the pediatric surgeon to solve the problem after birth.

There are other treatment alternatives if the extirpation is incomplete or not possible because it occupies an area that is difficult to access. These alternatives are sclerotherapy, steroids, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, aiming to reduce tumor size.

Another possibility in the case of cystic hygroma is its spontaneous resolution during pregnancy. Some case reports describe a reduction in size to the point of disappearance after a series of follow-up ultrasounds.

Cystic hygroma: Complications

The complications of a cystic hygroma depend on the timing of its development. If it forms during the fetal period, spontaneous abortions or fetal death may occur due to obstruction of the trachea.

There is an association between intrauterine death and other findings associated with cystic hygroma, chromosomal abnormalities, or other coexisting abnormalities.

Cystic hygromas have a better prognosis if they form after birth, especially after complete removal.

Some of the complications that can occur are:

  • Bleeding.
  • A skin infection (cellulitis).
  • Continuous growth and deformity of the area it’s located.
  • Recurrence after extirpation.
  • Injury to the tissues around the tumor during surgical removal.

The long-term outlook for infants with cystic hygroma

Cystic hygroma is a benign tumor that generally has a good prognosis. With surgery, it can disappear if there’s total extirpation of the tumor; the long-term outlook largely depends on an association, or lack thereof, with a genetic abnormality.

The attending physician will recommend the best follow-up option if it’s associated with a genetic abnormality.

Finally, draining or perforating the tumor at home is not recommended; no matter how small it may seem, you should always consult a doctor.

This guide serves educational purposes only; it cannot and should not constitute medical advice.

Who are the top experts researching treatments for cystic hygroma?

The top experts researching cystic hygroma are: Ashok Lingappa, Chih-Ping Chen and Andre J Macdonald.

Cystic Hygroma

What are the top concepts researched in studies about cystic hygroma?

The most researched concepts in studies of cystic hygroma are: Prenatal Diagnosis, Surgical Excision, Hydrops Fetalis, Normal Karyotype, Fetal Anomalies, Gestational Age, Pregnant Women, Chest Wall, Amniotic Fluid and Early Pregnancy.

What are some of the top places that specialize in cystic hygroma?

Recommended institutions that specialize in cystic hygroma:

Dr. Priya G. Kumaravelu, MD 175 N Jackson Ave #209, San Jose, CA 95116 Phone: +14088988226

2330 Eastchester Rd, The Bronx, NY 10469 2330 Eastchester Rd, The Bronx, NY 10469 Phone: +17187324050

Care Oncology Clinic Ltd 76 Harley St, London W1G 7HH, United Kingdom Phone: +442038555939

Punit Chadha, M.D. 4101 James Casey St Suite 100, Austin, TX 78745 Phone: +15124472202

Cystic Hygroma

This article has been medically reviewed by Marither Oropeza, MD — 2022-12-12
Maurice J Mahoney #1
Maurice J Mahoney
Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States | Department of Genetics, School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA | ...
Prenatal Diagnosis | Nuchal Thickness | Syndrome Detection | Maternal Age | Triple Screen
Karin J Blakemore #2
Karin J Blakemore
Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine, The Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. | Department of ...
Hellp Syndrome | Birth Weight | Gestational Age | Preterm Delivery | Prenatal Diagnosis
Richard L Berkowitz #3
Richard L Berkowitz
Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons | Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, NY | Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of ...
Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction | Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia | Prenatal Diagnosis | Selective Termination | Gestational Age
Glenn C Isaacson #4
Glenn C Isaacson
Departments of Pediatrics, Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA | Departments of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Temple University ...
Tympanostomy Tube | Cystic Fibrosis | Ovine Model | Otitis Media | Bipolar Electrosurgical Scissors
Marge Tortora #5
Marge Tortora
From the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA | Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pathology, ...
Fetal Hydrocephalus | Antenatal Sonographic Diagnosis | Perinatal Management | Single Umbilical Artery | Cleft Lip
Kara L Mayden #6
Kara L Mayden
Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Illinois | Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center, Chicago | Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mount Sinai Hospital Medical Center, ...
Fetal Hydrocephalus | Uterine Cervix | Single Umbilical Artery | Cleft Lip | Prenatal Diagnosis
John M Opitz #7
John M Opitz
Department of Human Genetics, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, Utah | Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, ...
Publication Abnormalities | Rett Syndrome | Prenatal Diagnosis | Mental Retardation | Genetic Counseling
MOSHE Bronshtein #8
MOSHE Bronshtein
Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, Haifa, Israel. | Faculty of Social Welfare & Health Sciences, ...
Transvaginal Sonography | Early Pregnancy | Prenatal Diagnosis | Cleft Lip | Fetal Anomalies
Ze'ev Blumenfeld #9
Ze'ev Blumenfeld
Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 3109601, Israel | Reproductive Endocrinology, Ob/Gyn, Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Technion - ...
Transvaginal Sonography | Ovulation Induction | Young Women | Fertility Preservation | Ovarian Function
Mitchell S Golbus #10
Mitchell S Golbus
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University California, San Francisco, U.S.A. | Emeritus, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive ...
Prenatal Diagnosis | Chorionic Villus Sampling | Amniotic Fluid | Situ Hybridization | Fetal Surgery
Roy A Filly #11
Roy A Filly
UCSF, San Francisco, CA, USA | Department of Radiology, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA | Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University ...
Prenatal Diagnosis | Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia | Ectopic Pregnancy | Pleural Effusions | Cisterna Magna
Luciano Bovicelli #12
Luciano Bovicelli
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Bologna University Hospital, Bologna, Italy | Tecnobios Prenatale, Bologna, Italy | Medical Genetics Laboratory, Tecnobios Prenatale ...
Prenatal Diagnosis | Transvaginal Sonography | Corpus Callosum | Transfrontal View | Gestational Age
Nicola Rizzo #13
Nicola Rizzo
Division of Obstetrics and Prenatal Medicine, Department of Medicine and Surgery (DIMEC) Sant'Orsola‐Malpighi Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy | Department of ...
Prenatal Diagnosis | Gestational Age | Maternal Blood | Hyperimmune Globulin | Fetal Head
Sandro Gabrielli #14
Sandro Gabrielli
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sant'Orsola-Malpighi University Hospital, University of Bologna, Bologna, and, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tor Vergata ...
Transvaginal Sonography | Twin Gestations | Singleton Pregnancies | Gestational Sac | Essential Thrombocythemia
Mark T Cullen #15
Mark T Cullen
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA. | Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Florida Hospital, ...
Antenatal Diagnosis | Antiphospholipid Antibodies | Congenital Heart Disease | Fetal Blood | Urinary Calcium
Jacqueline J Green #16
Jacqueline J Green
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Florida Hospital, Orlando 32803, USA | Section of Pediatrics (Cardiology), Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut ...
Gestational Age | Yolk Sac | Diabetic Mothers | Congenital Heart Disease | Cardiac Output
Juriy W Wladimiroff #17
Juriy W Wladimiroff
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Obstetrics and Prenatal Medicine, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands | Department of ...
Flow Velocity | Prenatal Diagnosis | Gestational Age | Heart Rate | Umbilical Artery
Carolyn M Salafia #18
Carolyn M Salafia
Department of Pathology, New York Methodist Hospital, 506 6th St, 11215, Brooklyn, NY, United States | Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York Presbyterian - ...
Placental Pathology | Birth Weight | Gestational Age | Amniotic Fluid | Fetal Growth
Thomas L Kennedy #19
Thomas L Kennedy
Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Facial Plastic Surgery Geisinger Medical Center Danville PA | Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Geisinger ...
Lingual Thyroid Carcinoma | Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy | Surgical Management | Squamous Cell | Rational Approach
James D Goldberg #20
James D Goldberg
Myriad Women’s Health, South San Francisco, CA, United States | Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Irving ...
Prenatal Diagnosis | Clinical Utility | Carrier Screening | Selective Termination | Chorionic Villus Sampling
This article has been medically reviewed by Marither Oropeza, MD — 2022-12-12

Cystic Hygroma And Lymphangioma: Associated Findings, Perinatal Outcome And...

.. of cystic hygromas in live-born infants.MethodsWe reported a series of 57 cystic hygroma cases, who were diagnosed in the first and the second trimester of pregnancy by means of the ...

Cystic Hygroma | Neck Neoplasms | Turner Syndrome | Pregnancy Outcome | Prenatal Diagnosis

Multidisciplinary Approach In Cystic Hygroma: Prenatal Diagnosis, Outcome, And...

.. with cystic hygroma.

METHODS: A series of 64 cystic hygroma patients, who were diagnosed in the first and the second trimester of pregnancy, was enrolled. Associated structural ...

Cystic Hygroma | Prenatal Diagnosis | Pregnancy Outcome | Chromosomal Abnormalities | Multidisciplinary Approach

Cytogenetic Evaluation Of Cystic Hygroma Associated With Hydrops Fetalis,...

.. fetal cystic hygroma in the second and third trimesters are often associated with hydrops fetalis, oligohydramnios or intrauterine fetal death which may make genetic assessment more ...

Cystic Hygroma | Hydrops Fetalis | Intrauterine Fetal Death | Gestational Age | Cytogenetic Evaluation

Incidence Of Chromosomal Abnormalities In The Presence Of Fetal Subcutaneous...

.. oedema, cystic hygroma and non-immune hydrops.

RESULTS: Intrauterine karyotyping in fetal subcutaneous oedema was carried out in 434 cases. The chromosomal investigation was made in nuchal ...

Cystic Hygroma | Chromosomal Abnormalities | Pregnancy Trimester | Nuchal Translucency | Hydrops Cases

Prenatally Diagnosed Turner Syndrome And Cystic Hygroma: Incidence And Reasons...

.. and cystic hygroma cases among prenatal cases performed between 1998 and 2007.

METHODS: In this study 3,595 amniocentesis, chorionic villus and cordocenthesis materials obtained between ...

Turner Syndrome | Cystic Hygroma | Prenatal Diagnosis | 6 Cases | 45x Karyotype

Outcome Of Fetal Cystic Hygroma And Experience Of Intrauterine Treatment

.. fetal cystic hygroma and to examine the prognostic factors with the goal of establishing criteria for the intrauterine treatment for cystic hygroma.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Thirty-one cases ...

Cystic Hygroma | Intrauterine Treatment | Hydrops Fetalis | Chromosomal Abnormalities | Newborn Lymphangioma

Cystic Hygroma And Mid-Trimester Maternal Serum Screening

.. with cystic hygroma at 15-18 weeks of gestation.

STUDY DESIGN: We retrospectively reviewed case-notes of 34 consecutive singleton fetuses with cystic hygroma referred at 15-18 weeks of ...

Cystic Hygroma | Outcome Fetuses | Chromosomal Abnormalities | Pregnancy Trimester | Chorionic Gonadotropin

Cystic Hygroma Of The Head And Neck

.. with cystic hygroma of the head and neck are reviewed. 92 per cent of the children required surgical excision of the cystic hygroma and one-third of these children suffered a permanent ...

Cystic Hygroma | Head Neck | Infant Infant | Surgical Excision | Spontaneous Resolution

Descriptive Epidemiology Of Cystic Hygroma: Hawaii, 1986 To 1999

.. OBJECTIVES: Cystic hygroma is associated with chromosomal abnormalities and a low chance of survival. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between cystic hygroma and ...

Cystic Hygroma | Chromosomal Abnormalities | Maternal Age | Pregnancy Outcome | Humans Lymphangioma

First-Trimester Diagnosis Of Cystic Hygroma—course And Outcome

.. whom cystic hygroma was diagnosed in the first trimester of pregnancy through the application of transvaginal ultrasonography.

STUDY DESIGN: In the period 1990 to 1991 22 fetuses with ...

Cystic Hygroma | Fetal Karyotyping | Trimester Pregnancy | Normal Karyotype | Fetuses Trisomy

Antenatal Treatment Of Chylothorax And Cystic Hygroma With Ok-432 In Nonimmune...

.. fetal cystic hygroma and chylothorax complicated with nonimmune hydrops fetalis.

METHODS: OK-432 (Picibanil) was injected into the fetal pleural cavity or fetal cystic hygroma.


Cystic Hygroma | Hydrops Fetalis | Fetal Chylothorax | 34 Weeks | Newborn Lymphangioma

First Trimester Cystic Hygroma: Does Early Detection Matter?

.. fetal cystic hygroma detected when crown-rump length measures less than 45 mm, and to compare them to outcomes among fetuses with cystic hygroma detected when crown-rump length measures ...

Cystic Hygroma | Normal Karyotype | Fetuses Trimester | Hydrops Fetalis | Gestational Age

Characteristics And Outcome Of Fetal Cystic Hygroma Diagnosed In The First Trimester

.. with cystic hygroma diagnosed at 10-14 weeks' gestation.

METHODS: Maternal and fetal data (nuchal translucency, karyotype, pregnancy outcome) in cases of fetal cystic hygroma, admitted or ...

Cystic Hygroma | Outcome Pregnancy | Structural Abnormalities | Nuchal Translucency | Prenatal Diagnosis

Cystic Hygroma In An Adult; A Case Report

.. or cystic hygroma is a subtype of lymphangioma which exhibits large macroscopic cystic space histologically. The cause of cystic hygroma is believed to be developmental defect or primary ...

Cystic Hygroma | Lymphatic Channels | Inguinal Retroperitoneal | Adult | Lesion

Increased Detection Of Cystic Hygroma: A “technology‐induced Phenomenon”

.. of cystic hygroma in an urban hospital-based Active Malformations Surveillance Program during 1973-1974, 1979-1980, 1984-1985, and 1989-1990. All affected infants were identified from a ...

Cystic Hygroma | Newborn Lymphangioma | Prenatal Ultrasonography | Birth Status | Infants Fetuses

Population‐based Study Of The Outcome Following The Prenatal Diagnosis Of Cystic Hygroma

.. of cystic hygroma.

DESIGN: We analysed the pregnancy outcomes from 99 cases of prenatally diagnosed cystic hygroma reported to the Trent Congenital Anomalies Register from 1 January 1997 ...

Cystic Hygroma | Prenatal Diagnosis | Turner Syndrome | Termination Pregnancy | 1 January

Resolution Of Cystic Hygroma, Hydrops Fetalis, And Fetal Anemia

Cystic hygroma with hydrops fetalis is considered to have grave prognosis. This report describes a case of resolution of cystic hygroma, hydrops fetalis, and fetal anemia in a female fetus ...

Cystic Hygroma | Hydrops Fetalis | Fetal Anemia | Spontaneous Ultrasonography | Prenatal Adult

Natural History And Outcome Of Prenatally Diagnosed Cystic Hygroma

.. of cystic hygroma diagnosed from a routine obstetric population.

METHOD: This was a retrospective study of 42 cases of fetal cystic hygroma detected at 11 to 23 weeks' gestation in a ...

Cystic Hygroma | Hydrops Fetalis | Pregnancy Outcome | Turner Syndrome | Defects Congenital

Efficacy And Safety Of Ok-432 Sclerotherapy For Giant Cystic Hygroma In A Newborn

.. cervical cystic hygroma in a newborn.

RESULTS: There were no systemic side effects. Blood tests and double immune diffusion tests showed no systemic infection or generalised inflammatory ...

Cystic Hygroma | Newborn Lymphangioma | Ok432 Sclerotherapy | Intralesional Injection | Effective Therapy

Cystic Hygroma Of The Neck

.. of cystic hygroma of the neck are reviewed.Obstruction to the respiratory and alimentary passages was always associated with extension of the hygroma to the mediastinum or floor of the ...

Cystic Hygroma | Neck Neoplasms | Surgical Excision | Sclerosing Solutions | Vital Structures