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Substernal goiter: a clinical review.

Thyroid disease is a very common problem, but indications for surgery are few. We have seen a large number of patients with multinodular goiter. The main indications for surgery in thyroid disease include fear of malignancy, tracheo-esophageal compression, and cosmetic reasons. Tracheo-esophageal compression is most commonly noted in patients with mediastinal goiters. Substernal goiter is defined as those situations in which at least 50% of the gland is in the mediastinal location. Although its incidence has decreased, it remains prevalent in almost every country in the world today. SSG is best diagnosed by a thorough history and physical examination, complemented by airway films, fiberoptic laryngoscopy, and computerized tomography. The most common presenting symptoms are those produced secondary to compression effects. SSG show a poor response to medical treatment. Moreover, given their propensity to cause acute airway symptoms, surgical treatment should be considered in most cases. Extirpation of the gland is best performed through a collar incision, with the addition of a median sternotomy in select few and difficult cases. Median sternotomy is necessary in only 1% to 2% of cases. Operative mortality is negligible, and the incidence of complication is minimized by following strict surgical principles.

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