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Substernal and intrathoracic goiter. Reconsideration of surgical approach.

American Surgeon 1983 April
Thirty-one patients were operated on for benign thyromegaly extending to the thorax in an 11-year period at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Neck mass (65%), dysphagia (36%), and dyspnea (32%) were the most common symptoms. All patients were euthyroid. Five patients had previous thyroid surgery. A thyroid scan was performed on 24-patients. Fourteen (58%) suggested a thoracic extension while ten (42%) failed to identify a thoracic extension. The indications for resection were increasing symptoms, increasing size despite the use of dessicated thyroid therapy, and to establish a diagnosis. The left thyroid lobe extended into the thorax more frequently (70%) than the right. Most patients had multinodular goiter (94%). Three patients had occult carcinoma (10%) and two patients had Hashimoto's disease. Median sternotomy combined with a collar incision to provide exposure for excision of intrathoracic thyroid extension was used in six patients. There was no operative mortality. There was no increase in operative morbidity and a slight increase in average stay from 5.3 days with a collar incision alone to 6.8 days with the combined incisions. Median sternotomy does not increase morbidity or mortality. Specific indications for more liberal use of sternotomy extension of a collar incision are proposed for the management of substernal and intrathoracic goiters.

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