Bailey classification of second branchial cleft cysts

Last revised by Deleted User on 26 Dec 2016

This classification was initially proposed by Bailey in 1929 2 and remains the most widely used classification system at time of writing (July 2016).

Bailey classification of second branchial cleft cysts provides a structure for classing second branchial cleft cysts into four types. It is no longer used in practice, having been superseded by the sensible approach of describing the lesion. However, it is worth noting this classification because it gives a sense of the variability in location and helps to frame a description.

  • type I: deep to platysma, anterior to sternocleidomastoid (SCM)
  • type II: abutting internal carotid artery and adherent to internal jugular vein (most common)
  • type III: extending between internal and external carotid arteries
  • type IV: abutting pharyngeal wall and potentially extending superiorly to skull base

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