What is a Branchial Cleft Cyst?


For what now seems like months, I have been poked and prodded at to find out what this large mass on the side of my neck was. I had posted a few times here and here, telling you guys that I was freaking out. And while I still have the right to freak out, at least I know what the lump is, a Branchial Cleft Cyst. Branchial Cleft Cyst

That's right it's a Branchial Cleft Cyst, and it is actually a birth defect.

The defect occurred while little tad pole Kylea was still developing tissues in the neck and collarbone area around weeks 4 or 5. Basically during those weeks there are 5 bands of tissue called Pharyngeal arches that form and later become more important items like bone, muscles, and blood vessels. A Brachial Cleft Cyst occurs when the tissues don’t form properly and create open spaces called Cleft Sinuses. There is more mumbo jumbo that happens, but I won’t go into that much detail. If you want to know more, go here and read through.

From what I have read, this almost always starts out with a small bump in the neck as a child. I totally had one of those that developed when I was 10 or 11. I had a CT but they only said that it was a bump in the neck. As you get into your young adult years, the cyst has more chances of expanding and becoming infected.

It can even be triggered by a Respiratory Infection.

I was admitted into the hospital in 2013 with a severe case of pneumonia. They couldn't figure out what was wrong with me and prodded at my neck where the bump later grew.  Still it was nothing but a bump in the neck until this last November. The area started to become puffier and the lump became more than noticeable. By Christmas it was the size of a large egg, sitting close to far too many important things. And by time I was able to get into the doctor at the beginning of the year; it had solidified and taken over a good portion of my neck.

This was me on what I would like to think was the worst day. My entire face felt swollen and I almost didn't go to work because I was in pain.

Branchial Cleft Cyst

Branchial Cleft Cyst

Branchial Cleft Cyst

I couldn't let myself start going to that dark place though. I had to step away from worst case scenarios.

Still in good spirits though I was terrified, I even named my little bump Vula. You know, after the crazy aunt from My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Well I kept telling people that this bump was the good twin and that I had eaten it in the womb. Once the biopsy was examined they would find teeth and a spinal cord.

The words cancer and tumor were thrown around like it was nothing. I laid in a TINY ASS TUBE for an hour to get an MRI. I had to go through a very pricey Biopsy, of which was not as fine needle as they thought. Since I had also had a serious upper respiratory infection, I also got a pricey X-Ray.

A little relief came when they pulled 85mL of reddish, brown cystic liquid out of it to relieve some of the pressure on my neck. More came when they finally confirmed it was a Branchial Cleft Cyst and that I would be undergoing surgery  to remove it.

With that being said, stay tuned for more posts on my surgery and how I'm recovering.