Thyroglossal duct

Dr Henry Knipe and A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

The thyroglossal duct is an epithelium-lined connection between the foramen cecum and the thyroid that develops during the descent of the thyroid. It usually involutes in the 8th-10th week of gestation. 

The thyroglossal duct arises from foramen cecum located at the junction of anterior two thirds and posterior third of the tongue 1. From there it passes in front of the body of the hyoid bone, curving backwards and superiorly to reach behind the bone before once more turning inferiorly and continuing to the isthmus of the thyroid. The pyramidal lobe, if present, marks this point.

The thyroid may halt at any stage during its descent or leave rests of thyroid tissue along the course of the duct 2:

Failure of obliteration of the duct may lead to the formation of a thyroglossal duct cyst

Anatomy: Head and neck
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Article information

rID: 8257
System: Head & Neck
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: thyroglossal duct
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