Lévay, Bernadett1; Boér, András1; Kocsis, Ákos2; Agócs, László2
1 National Institute of Oncology, Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Budapest, Hungary
2 National Institute of Oncology, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Budapest, Hungary
The presence of a substernal goiter which compresses the adjacent structures is per se an indication for resection, mostly total thyroidectomy should be performed either by a head and neck or general surgeon. In about 1–10% of the cases the goiter is located behind the sternum, and the removal requires different surgical technique.
Methods: Authors operated 182 patients between 2000–2014 with substernal goiter which all reached the level
of the jugulum. The 182 cases were examined retrospectively.
Results: All the patients were symptomatic with choking and dyspnea. In 31 cases neck ultrasound were performed, in 7 cases neck MRI and in 138 cases neck-upper mediastinal CT scan were indicated to discover the real situation of the lobes. 15 patients had previous partial thyroidectomy.
A cervical approach was used in 175 cases, 7 patients required median sternotomy to complete the operation. Transient recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy occurred in 1 patient, permanent RLNP in 3. Nine lesions were malignant, 173 were benign.
Conclusion: Choking and dyspnea are the most common symptoms of substernal goiter. CT scan is an important preoperative evaluation, while it helps not only to definefine the position of the thyroid lobes, but also put the right operating team together. Although most of the retrosternal goiters can be removed by a cervical approach, some of them need additional incisions. Hence, it is important to have a thoracic surgeon available. Reviewing the Hungarian literature the authors have not found any other study examining so many patients.