What are cystic hygroma?
Cystic hygroma is a rare type of abnormal cyst growth in a baby, usually appear on neck. These cysts are filled with fluid which is caused by the blockage in the lymphatic system. This role of the lymphatic system is to carry cells, fluid and protein to circulate between tissues and blood system.
These cysts can easily be noticed during the initial time of pregnancy or just after the birth, however it cannot be treated in the womb. Sometimes these cysts may go away by its own before the birth. There can be many reasons behind the growth of cystic hygroma, some known reasons are mentioned below. Some cystic hygromas are harmful and require surgery while others may not cause any harm.
Although, if this condition is diagnosed during pregnancy, then the delivery needs to be undertaken by the high professionals because the chances of difficulty may rise including miscarriage. One should consult the doctor to learn the best solutions for this problem.
What are the causes of cystic hygroma?
Environmental factors refer to the womb’s environment that is responsible for improper growth of lymphatic system which causes this disorder. It may include:
- Alcohol or drug consumption during pregnancy.
- Intake of toxic food during pregnancy.
- Infection or disease passed from mother to the baby during pregnancy.
Genetic reasons that can cause cystic hygroma may include:
- Noonan syndrome; a genetic disorder that prevents normal development of various body parts.
- Turner’s syndrome; a condition in which one X chromosome is missing in the female
- Down’s syndrome
- Trisomy13, 18, or 21, when the child has an extra copy of a chromosome.
Among the above both, genetic reasons are the most common cause of cystic hygromas. In some cases, these cysts disappear by their own before the birth.
What are the symptoms of cystic hygroma?
The symptoms of cystic hygroma may appear as soon as the baby is in the womb through routine ultrasound and in some cases, the symptoms may be visible much later when the child turns 2 years old. A bulge under the skin, usually on the neck is commonly seen as a symptom. However, cystic hygromas can be found in other body parts as well, such as mouth, arms, chest, tongue, legs, groin, etc.
Babies with this problem may face multiple difficulties in other nearby organs. Breathing problem and slow physical growth are the most common impact of cystic hygroma. Such cysts grow larger as the baby grows and can damage other organs too. In some cases when the cyst started bleeding internally or when it gets infected, they turn much bigger. These cysts may grow as bigger in size as of a basketball.
What are the treatments available for cystic hygroma?
Cystic hygroma is treatable, usually the doctors prefer a surgery to remove the cyst over other methods. As other solutions are comparatively less reliable in case of large cyst and there are some chances of it coming back, if it isn’t removed completely.
However, not all cysts are dangerous, some of them might not hinder the health of the baby, in these cases doctors may not suggest any treatment.
Treatment to remove cystic hygroma, other than surgery includes:
- Radiation therapy
- Steroid medication
To know more, consult our team of General and paediatric surgeons at The Surgeons House (SHL) available at different global locations. Please click this link for more details.