Thyroidal abscesses in third and fourth branchial anomalies: Not only a paediatric diagnosis

Schelto Kruijff, Mark S. Sywak, Stan B. Sidhu, Albert Shun, Daniel Novakovic, James C. Lee, Leigh W. Delbridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION:Acute suppurative thyroiditis and recurrent abscess formation due to third and fourth branchial anomalies typically present in children. However, thyroid abscesses in branchial anomalies may occur in adulthood as well. Failure to recognize and delayed drainage of a neck abscess may lead to a fulminant life-threatening outcome. METHODS:This is a retrospective case series. The study group comprised all patients presenting over a 12-month period from January to December 2012 with thyroid abscesses and a branchial cleft anomaly in two centres, one adult and the other paediatric. Patient demographics, clinical presentation, imaging, surgical management, definitive histology and outcomes were documented. RESULTS:Five patients were identified with a history of thyroid abscesses. Only one was a child (aged 9 years) with the other four being adults (aged 20, 34, 37 and 41 years). All patients had third or fourth left branchial cleft anomalies, presenting as suppurative thyroiditis with a left-sided thyroid abscess. Management options ranged from abscess drainage on initial presentation, primary thyroid lobectomy or delayed thyroid lobectomy following abscess drainage. CONCLUSION:Acute suppurative thyroidits and thyroid abscesses is not just a paediatric diagnosis but may present at any age. In both children and adults, a thyroid abscess almost always arises from branchial cleft anomalies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)578 - 581
Number of pages4
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute suppurative thyroiditis
  • Third and fourth branchial anomalies
  • Thyroidal abscesses

Cite this

Kruijff, S., Sywak, M. S., Sidhu, S. B., Shun, A., Novakovic, D., Lee, J. C., & Delbridge, L. W. (2015). Thyroidal abscesses in third and fourth branchial anomalies: Not only a paediatric diagnosis. ANZ Journal of Surgery, 85(7-8), 578 - 581.