Retrosternal goiters

Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2012 Apr-Jun;116(2):523-31.


The term of retrosternal or substernal goiter means that more than 50% of thyroid gland descends in the thorax.

Material and methods: There is a retrospective study on retrosternal and substernal goiter and its patological features among 2482 patients who underwent thyroidectomy between 2000 and 2010 in the First Surgery Clinic of Iaşi. Retrosternal goiter was identified 54 patients (2.17%). All patients were refered to surgery from the Clinic of Endocrinology.

Results: Mean age at diagnosis was 55.3 +/- 3.58 years, and most cases were found in women (83.3%). The clinical pictures of retrosternal goiter was dominated by compressive disorders. Thyroid function abormalities were identified by hormonal assays performed on Endocrinology Clinic lasi in 15 cases (27.7%). The diagnosis of retrosternal goiter was suggested by clinical examination and confirmed by imagery: thorax X ray, ultrasonography, CT scan. The cervical approach was being safely performed. Only in 8 cases (14,8%), sternotomy was necessary. There was no mortality and morbidity was 5.5% (3 cases). The length of stay in the hospital was 4.3 days. We compared our recent data with a previous report on retrosternal and thoracic goiter treated in First Surgery Clinic of lasi during 1950 to 1979 and published in the journal "Chirurgia" in 1981.

Conclusions: Retrosternal goiter is a particular form of thyroid surgical pathology presentation with declining incidence. Diagnosis and treatment of retrosternal goiter involve a multidisciplinary team. The endocrinologist has an important role in diagnosis and postoperative follow-up. Surgery is the treatment of choice for substernal goiters, but there are still some controversies on surgical approach, and complication rate. The cervical approach can be safely performed in almost all cases but when required, sternotomy should be performed without hesitation.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Goiter, Substernal / diagnosis*
  • Goiter, Substernal / epidemiology
  • Goiter, Substernal / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Romania / epidemiology
  • Sternotomy
  • Thyroidectomy*
  • Treatment Outcome