Table of contents:
- Types of cystic hygroma
- Main symptoms
- Causes of cystic hygroma
- How to confirm the diagnosis
- How is the treatment
Cystic hygroma, also called cystic lymphangioma, is a condition characterized by the formation of a benign tumor in places such as the neck, armpit or face, and which occurs due to a rare malformation of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for production of the body's defense cells, and the drainage and filtration of body fluids.
This malformation is more common in babies, being observed during pregnancy or after birth and can cause some problems, such as difficulty breathing, pain, fever or difficulty swallowing. However, cystic hygroma can also appear during adulthood, although it is rarer.
Some of the therapies indicated to treat cystic hygroma are drainage, cauterization, the use of antibiotics, surgery or sclerotherapy, which consists of applying medication directly to the cyst, such as OK432 (Picibanil) or bleomycin, to reduce the size of the lesions.
Types of cystic hygroma
The types of cystic hygroma vary according to the location of the tumors, which can be cervicofacial, found in the head and neck region, in the armpit and in the groin. However, in rarer cases, cysts can also develop in the spleen, kidneys, pancreas, liver, or intestines.
The most common types of cystic hygroma are:
1. Cervicofacial cystic hygroma
Cervicofacial cystic hygroma affects the head and neck region and the main characteristics are the presence of small or large nodules, flexible and with a soft texture.
2. Cystic hygroma of tongue
This type of cystic hygroma is the most common among the types that affect the mouth and presents small superficial nodules, with an irregular shape, resembling "frog eggs" or tiny stones, which may contain blood and transparent fluid, the lymph.
3. Cystic hygroma of armpit
This type of hygroma is located in the armpit region, being formed by a flexible mass, ranging in size from small to medium, and which contains lymph, fat cells and, in some cases, may contain blood.
4. Cystic hygroma of groin and scrotum
Cystic hygroma of the groin and scrotum is extremely rare and presents the form of a soft mass that can be located in the groin and scrotum and be identified by ultrasound examination.
In most cases, cystic hygroma does not cause pain. However, as it promotes local inflammation, some of the main symptoms that may arise according to the location and size of the lesions are:
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Pain at the wound site;
More complicated cases of cystic hygroma can also cause more serious symptoms, such as bleeding and difficulty breathing.
Causes of cystic hygroma
The causes of the appearance of cystic hygroma are still not fully known. However, it is believed to be caused by defects in the development of the lymphatic system channels, generating the accumulation of lymph, a liquid that removes impurities from the body, causing the formation of cysts. Understand what the lymphatic system is and how it works.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of cystic hygroma in the baby occurs during pregnancy, where the obstetrician may request nuchal translucency, an exam that is performed during ultrasound, and can be done during prenatal care. See how the nuchal translucency test is performed.
After birth, observation, palpation, and tests such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography are the most used ways by doctors to verify the composition of the cyst and diagnose cystic hygroma.
How is the treatment
The most suitable treatment to combat cystic hygroma is sclerotherapy, a type of treatment in which medication is injected into the cyst, such as OK432 (Picibanil) or bleomycin, to reduce the size of the lesions. See how sclerotherapy is performed.
Another recommended option to treat cystic hygroma is puncture of the tumor fluid, to reduce its size, avoiding damage to other organs.
Depending on the location, surgery to completely remove the hygroma may be indicated, but this may not be the best option due to the risk of complications during surgery, such as nerve and artery damage, or after surgery, such as bleeding and infections.
In addition, in some cases, some physiotherapy sessions may also be indicated to reduce pain and improve mobility in the region where the cyst was removed.