Thyroglossal duct

Last updated
Thyroglossal duct
Illu08 thyroid.jpg
Duct not labeled, but arises nearest to region identified as 'pyramidal lobe')
Pattern of the branchial arches. I-IV branchial arches, 1-4 branchial pouches (inside) and/or pharyngeal grooves (outside)
a Tuberculum laterale
b Tuberculum impar
c Foramen cecum
d Ductus thyreoglossus
e Sinus cervicalis
Carnegie stage 14
Latin Ductus thyreoglossus
TE E5.
Anatomical terminology

The thyroglossal duct is an embryological anatomical structure forming an open connection between the initial area of development of the thyroid gland and its final position. It is located exactly mid-line, between the anterior 2/3 and posterior 1/3 of the tongue.

Embryology branch of biology studying prenatal biology

Embryology is the branch of biology that studies the prenatal development of gametes, fertilization, and development of embryos and fetuses. Additionally, embryology encompasses the study of congenital disorders that occur before birth, known as teratology.

Tongue mouth organ that tastes and facilitates speech

The tongue is a muscular organ in the mouth of most vertebrates that manipulates food for mastication, and is used in the act of swallowing. It is of importance in the digestive system and is the primary organ of taste in the gustatory system. The tongue's upper surface (dorsum) is covered by taste buds housed in numerous lingual papillae. It is sensitive and kept moist by saliva, and is richly supplied with nerves and blood vessels. The tongue also serves as a natural means of cleaning the teeth. A major function of the tongue is the enabling of speech in humans and vocalization in other animals.

The thyroid gland starts developing in the oropharynx in the fetus and descends to its final position taking a path through the tongue, hyoid bone and neck muscles. The connection between its original position and its final position is the thyroglossal duct. This duct normally atrophies and closes off as the foramen cecum before birth but can remain open in some people.

A fetus or foetus is the unborn offspring of an animal that develops from an embryo. Following embryonic development the fetal stage of development takes place. In human prenatal development, fetal development begins from the ninth week after fertilisation and continues until birth. Prenatal development is a continuum, with no clear defining feature distinguishing an embryo from a fetus. However, a fetus is characterized by the presence of all the major body organs, though they will not yet be fully developed and functional and some not yet situated in their final anatomical location.

Hyoid bone horseshoe-shaped bone situated in the anterior midline of the neck between the chin and the thyroid cartilage

The hyoid bone is a horseshoe-shaped bone situated in the anterior midline of the neck between the chin and the thyroid cartilage. At rest, it lies at the level of the base of the mandible in the front and the third cervical vertebra (C3) behind.

Atrophy partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body

Atrophy is the partial or complete wasting away of a part of the body. Causes of atrophy include mutations, poor nourishment, poor circulation, loss of hormonal support, loss of nerve supply to the target organ, excessive amount of apoptosis of cells, and disuse or lack of exercise or disease intrinsic to the tissue itself. In medical practice, hormonal and nerve inputs that maintain an organ or body part are said to have trophic effects. A diminished muscular trophic condition is designated as atrophy. Atrophy is reduction in size of cell, organ or tissue, after attaining its normal mature growth. In contrast, hypoplasia is the reduction in size of a cell, organ, or tissue that has not attained normal maturity.

Clinical significance

A thyroglossal duct that fails to atrophy is called a persistent thyroglossal duct, a condition that may lead to the formation of a thyroglossal duct cyst. [1]

Persistent thyroglossal duct

A persistent thyroglossal duct is a usually benign medical condition in which the thyroglossal duct, a structure usually only found during embryonic development, fails to atrophy. The duct persists as a midline structure forming an open connection between the back of the tongue and the thyroid gland.This opening can lead to fluid accumulation and infection, which necessitate the removal of the duct.

Related Research Articles

Endocrine system system of glands of an organism that secrete hormones directly into the circulatory system to be carried towards distant target organs

The endocrine system is a chemical messenger system consisting of hormones, the group of glands of an organism that secrete those hormones directly into the circulatory system to regulate the function of distant target organs, and the feedback loops which modulate hormone release so that homeostasis is maintained. In humans, the major endocrine glands are the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands. In vertebrates, the hypothalamus is the neural control center for all endocrine systems. The study of the endocrine system and its disorders is known as endocrinology. Endocrinology is a branch of internal medicine.

Thyroid endocrine gland in the neck; secretes hormones that influence metabolism

The thyroid gland, or simply the thyroid, is an endocrine gland in the neck, consisting of two lobes connected by an isthmus. It is found at the front of the neck, below the Adam's apple. The thyroid gland secretes three hormones, namely the two thyroid hormones (thyroxine/T4 and triiodothyronine/T3), and calcitonin. The thyroid hormones primarily influence the metabolic rate and protein synthesis, but they also have many other effects, including effects on development. Calcitonin plays a role in calcium homeostasis.

Cyst closed sac growth on the body

A cyst is a closed sac, having a distinct membrane and division compared with the nearby tissue. Hence, it is a cluster of cells that has grouped together to form a sac ; however, the distinguishing aspect of a cyst is that the cells forming the "shell" of such a sac are distinctly abnormal when compared with all surrounding cells for that given location. It may contain air, fluids, or semi-solid material. A collection of pus is called an abscess, not a cyst. Once formed, sometimes a cyst may resolve on its own. When a cyst fails to resolve, it may need to be removed surgically, but that would depend upon its type and location.

Bartholins cyst cyst in a blocked Bartholins gland

A Bartholin's cyst occurs when Bartholin's gland, within the labia, becomes blocked. Small cysts may result in few symptoms. Large cysts may result in swelling of one side of the vagina, and pain with sex or walking. If the cyst becomes infected an abscess occurs. These are typically red and very painful.

Thyroglossal cyst A congenital benign cyst arising from the remnants of the thyroglossal duct. It is usually located in the midline of the neck.

A thyroglossal cyst is a fibrous cyst that forms from a persistent thyroglossal duct. Thyroglossal cysts can be defined as an irregular neck mass or a lump which develops from cells and tissues left over after the formation of the thyroid gland during developmental stages.

Ranula human disease

A ranula is a mucus extravasation cyst involving a sublingual gland and is a type of mucocele found on the floor of the mouth. Ranulae present as a swelling of connective tissue consisting of collected mucin from a ruptured salivary gland caused by local trauma. If small and asymptomatic further treatment may not be needed, otherwise minor oral surgery may be indicated.

Submandibular duct

The submandibular duct or Wharton duct or submaxillary duct, is one of the salivary excretory ducts. It is about 5 cm. long, and its wall is much thinner than that of the parotid duct. It drains saliva from each bilateral submandibular gland and sublingual gland to the sublingual caruncle at the base of the tongue.


Sialography is the radiographic examination of the salivary glands. It usually involves the injection of a small amount of contrast medium into the salivary duct of a single gland, followed by routine X-ray projections.

Sialadenitis inflammation of a salivary gland

Sialadenitis (sialoadenitis) is inflammation of salivary glands, usually the major ones, the most common being the parotid gland, followed by submandibular and sublingual glands. It should not be confused with sialadenosis (sialosis) which is a non-inflammatory enlargement of the major salivary glands.

Branchial cleft cyst

A branchial cleft cyst is a cyst as a swelling in the upper part of neck anterior to sternocleidomastoid. It can, but does not necessarily, have an opening to the skin surface, called a fistula. The cause is usually a developmental abnormality arising in the early prenatal period, typically failure of obliteration of the second branchial cleft, i.e. failure of fusion of the second and third branchial arches. Branchial cleft cysts account for almost 20% of neck masses in children. Less commonly, the cysts can develop from the first, third, or fourth clefts, and their location and the location of associated fistulas differs accordingly.

The development of the reproductive system is a part of prenatal development, and concerns the sex organs. It is a part of the stages of sexual differentiation. Because its location, to a large extent, overlaps the urinary system, the development of them can also be described together as the development of the urinary and reproductive organs.

Thyroid dysgenesis is a cause of congenital hypothyroidism where the thyroid is missing, ectopic, or severely underdeveloped.

Odontogenic cyst are a group of jaw cysts that are formed from tissues involved in odontogenesis. Odontogenic cysts are closed sacs, and have a distinct membrane derived from rests of odontogenic epithelium. It may contain air, fluids, or semi-solid material. Intra-bony cysts are most common in the jaws, because the mandible and maxilla are the only bones with epithelial components. That odontogenic epithelium is critical in normal tooth development. However, epithelial rests may be the origin for the cyst lining later. Not all oral cysts are odontogenic cyst. For example, mucous cyst of the oral mucosa and nasolabial duct cyst are not of odontogenic origin.
In addition, there are several conditions with so-called (radiographic) 'pseudocystic appearance' in jaws; ranging from anatomic variants such as Stafne static bone cyst, to the aggressive aneurysmal bone cyst.

Squamous-cell thyroid carcinoma A rapidly growing primary carcinoma of the thyroid gland composed of malignant squamous cells. The clinical course is usually aggressive.

Squamous-cell thyroid carcinoma is rare malignant neoplasm of thyroid gland which shows tumor cells with distinct squamous differentiation. The incidence of SCTC is less than 1% out of thyroid malignancies.

The face and neck development of the human embryo refers to the development of the structures from the third to eighth week that give rise to the future head and neck. They consist of three layers, the ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm, which form the mesenchyme, neural crest and neural placodes. The paraxial mesoderm forms structures named somites and somitomeres that contribute to the development of the floor of the brain and voluntary muscles of the craniofacial region. The lateral plate mesoderm consists of the laryngeal cartilages. The three tissue layers give rise to the pharyngeal apparatus, formed by six pairs of pharyngeal arches, a set of pharyngeal pouches and pharyngeal grooves, which are the most typical feature in development of the head and neck. The formation of each region of the face and neck is due to the migration of the neural crest cells which come from the ectoderm. These cells determine the future structure to develop in each pharyngeal arch. Eventually, they also form the neurectoderm, which forms the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain, cartilage, bone, dentin, tendon, dermis, pia mater and arachnoid mater, sensory neurons, and glandular stroma.

Salivary gland pathology Human disease

Salivary gland diseases (SGD) are multiple and varied in cause.

Human digestive system combination of anatomical organs that are responsible for digestive function

The human digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract plus the accessory organs of digestion. Digestion involves the breakdown of food into smaller and smaller components, until they can be absorbed and assimilated into the body. The process of digestion has many stages. The first stage is the cephalic phase of digestion which begins with gastric secretions in response to the sight and smell of food. The next stage starts in the mouth.

In CT scan of the thyroid, focal and diffuse thyroid abnormalities are commonly encountered. These findings can often lead to a diagnostic dilemma, as the CT reflects the nonspecific appearances. Ultrasound (US) examination has a superior spatial resolution and is considered the modality of choice for thyroid evaluation. Nevertheless, CT detects incidental thyroid nodules (ITNs) and plays an important role in the evaluation of thyroid cancer.


  1. Amos J, Shermetaro C (February 23, 2019). "Thyroglossal Duct Cyst". PMID   30085599.