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Tornwaldt Cyst

(Tornwaldt's Cyst; Pharyngeal Bursa)

By Clarence T. Sasaki, MD, The Charles W. Ohse Professor of Surgery and Director, Yale Larynx Lab, Yale University School of Medicine

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Tornwaldt cyst is a rare cyst in the midline of the nasopharynx that may become infected.

Tornwaldt cyst is a remnant of the embryonal notochord superficial to the superior constrictor muscle of the pharynx and is covered by the mucous membrane of the nasopharynx. It may become infected, causing persistent purulent drainage with a foul taste and odor, eustachian tube obstruction, and sore throat.

Purulent exudate may be seen at the opening of the cyst.

Diagnosis is based on nasopharyngoscopy supplemented by CT or MRI when the diagnosis is in doubt.

Treatment consists of marsupialization or excision.