Marsupialization and iodine sclerotherapy of a branchial cyst in a horse

N. M. Slovis, Johanna L Watson, S. S. Couto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


A 6-month-old Morgan colt was evaluated because of a 10-cm right-sided retropharyngeal swelling. The swelling was soft and moveable on examination, and palpation did not elicit signs of pain. Radiography revealed a large space-occupying mass ventral to the second cervical vertebra; ultrasonography revealed an anechoic fluid-filled structure with a well-defined hyperechoic capsule. Fine-needle aspiration yielded a viscous amber fluid. Cytologic evaluation indicated that the fluid was an exudate; anaerobic and aerobic bacterial culture did not yield any growth. Histologic examination of a portion of the cyst capsule revealed a connective tissue wall lined by pseudostratified columnar to cuboidal epithelium, consistent with a branchial cyst. The cyst wall was marsupialized to the skin, and iodine sclerotherapy was performed twice daily for 14 days, at which time forceps were introduced into the cyst and the cyst lining was removed. The site was allowed to heal by second intention, but 10 days later, the swelling recurred. An incision was made over the previous marsupialization site, and residual remnants of the cauterized cyst lining were removed with a forceps. The foal did not have any other complications during the subsequent 2 years. Branchial arch cysts are uncommon embryonic anomalies of horses, mice, cats, dogs, and cattle. Results suggest that marsupialization and iodine sclerotherapy may be a viable alternative to surgical excision in horses with branchial cysts; however, the entire cyst lining must be removed at the completion of sclerotherapy to prevent recurrence and abscess formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-340+324
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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