Foramen cecum (tongue)

Last revised by Calum Worsley on 3 Nov 2022

The foramen cecum of the tongue is the remnant of thyroglossal duct located between the anterior two-thirds and posterior third of the tongue. 

The foramen cecum is located in the midline on the surface of the tongue, at the apex of the terminal sulcus, the groove that marks the boundary between the anterior two-thirds and posterior third of the tongue 1.

The foramen cecum is the site at which the embryonic thyroid gland begins its development 2. It forms in the third week of gestation in the midline between the first and second pharyngeal arches 2. From here, the thyroid migrates inferiorly over the next six weeks of gestation to arrive at its final location in the anterior neck.

Occasionally, thyroid tissue can fail to make the migratory journey correctly, resulting in ectopic thyroid tissue being left along the thyroglossal duct anywhere from the foramen cecum to the thyroid bed. Similarly, the thyroglossal duct can occasionally fail to involute completely, resulting in the formation of a thyroglossal duct cyst anywhere along the same path.

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