The Eurasian Journal of Medicine
Original Article

Benign Nodular Goiter Causing Upper Airway Obstruction

Eurasian J Med 2009; 41: 75-79
Read: 1306 Downloads: 1255 Published: 03 September 2019



Objective. Benign nodular goiter (BNG) can cause narrowing of the upper airway. In some rare cases, obstruction of the upper airway also occurs. Thefollowing paper reports our experiences with regard to BNG patients who experienced obstruction of the upper airway.


Materials and Methods. We retrospectively investigated the records of 13 patients with acute airway obstruction due to BNG who were admitted to the General Surgery Department of Ataturk University Medical School between January 2000 and December 2007.

Results. Thirteen patients with airway obstruction secondary to BNG were hospitalized during this period. There were two males and 11 females, and the mean age was 58.5 years (range 37-74 years). For all patients, the primary symptom upon admission was defined as respiratory distress; all patients had varying degrees of respiratory distress upon admission. Three of the patients underwent emergent endotracheal intubation in the emergency room.

A preoperative radiological evaluation was performed with thyroid ultrasonography (US) and computed tomography (CT). There were retrosternal or substernal components of the BNG in nine patients. Twelve patients underwent operations, while one patient with mild respiratory distress elected not to be operated on. Ten patients underwent total thyroidectomies, while two patients underwent near-total thyroidectomies. One patient with retrosternal goiter also underwent a median sternotomy. Three patients received a tracheostomy after the operation.

Suction drains were utilized in all operations. During the post-operative period, two patients suffered from voice impairment, and seven patients experienced hypocalcemia. Two patients died. Pathological examination of the thyroidectomy tissue revealed BNG in all cases. In addition, two patients had micropapillary carcinomas.

Conclusion. Although BNG causing upper airway obstruction is rare, it is an important clinical entity because of the need for emergent operation, the increased rate of complications, and high mortality.

EISSN 1308-8742