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What is a Bronchial Cyst?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A bronchial cyst is an abnormal but non-cancerous tissue growth that usually develops in the trachea, lung, or cavity between a person’s lungs. This type of cyst may not cause symptoms unless it becomes infected or begins to cause the compression of surrounding tissues. For example, it may grow large enough to cause a misalignment of the internal organs.

Cysts can form in many different parts of the body. A cyst is a sac that is filled with liquid, air, or solid or semi-solid tissue. Cysts are non-functional, which means they do not serve a purpose and do not benefit the body.

Also called a bronchogenic cyst, a bronchial cyst is typically present at birth. Though infants are born with them, they may not be diagnosed at a young age. Instead, the patient may have the cyst for many years before developing symptoms. In fact, many people do not discover these cysts until they are long past childhood and adolescence.

Despite the fact that a bronchial cyst itself may not cause symptoms, it can still threaten a person’s life or contribute to illness. It can compress vital body structures, growing large enough to interfere with other body organs. The compression of organs is of particular concern when it affects children, as their organs are close together in a smaller space in the body. This means a cyst may begin to cause serious problems earlier in a child than it would in an adult. Sometimes cysts also rupture and bleed.

There are many symptoms that may develop when a person has a large cyst. The person may develop a persistent cough, for example, which is often the most apparent symptom for someone with these cysts. People with this condition may develop respiratory stress as the result of the compression of tissues and structures in the area. Sometimes people even develop adenocarcinoma or rhabdomyosarcoma, both cancerous conditions, because of a bronchial cyst. If a cyst ruptures or develops an infection, pain, discomfort, and the release of fluids, including blood, may result.

Radiology tests are typically used in diagnosing bronchial cysts. Ultrasounds are frequently used on infants while x-rays and computed tomography (CAT) scans may be more useful for older individuals. Once discovered, doctors often recommend surgery to remove these types of cysts. Sometimes doctors use open surgery to remove the cysts, but laser surgery techniques may be used as well.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By KaBoom — On Jun 30, 2011

@JaneAir - It's funny I stumbled on this article because one of my good friends is a radiologist. Last time I saw her she was telling me about doing an x-ray for a patient that had a huge bronchial cyst. Obviously she didn't give me any relevant details like the patients name but she did tell me that it was the largest bronchial cyst she had ever seen.

On the upside though, the x-ray process is painless, so that's one less thing for you to worry about.

By JaneAir — On Jun 29, 2011

I've been having some respiratory problems and my doctor mentioned the possibility of a bronchial cyst. I'm scheduled to have a chest x-ray next week and I'm a little nervous about it. I really don't want to have surgery done but after reading this article I think I'm going to ask my doctor about the option of laser surgery if surgery is required.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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