American Thyroid Association statement on optimal surgical management of goiter

Thyroid. 2014 Feb;24(2):181-9. doi: 10.1089/thy.2013.0291. Epub 2014 Jan 20.


Background: Goiter, or benign enlargement of the thyroid gland, can be asymptomatic or can cause compression of surrounding structures such as the esophagus and/or trachea. The options for medical treatment of euthyroid goiter are short-lived and are limited to thyroxine hormone suppression and radioactive iodine ablation. The objective of this statement article is to discuss optimal surgical management of goiter.

Methods: A task force was convened by the Surgical Affairs Committee of the American Thyroid Association and was tasked with writing of this article.

Results/conclusions: Surgical management is recommended for goiters with compressive symptoms. Symptoms of dyspnea, orthopnea, and dysphagia are more commonly associated with thyromegaly, in particular, substernal goiters. Several studies have demonstrated improved breathing and swallowing outcomes after thyroidectomy. With careful preoperative testing and thoughtful consideration of the type of anesthesia, including the type of intubation, preparation for surgery can be optimized. In addition, planning the extent of surgery and postoperative care are necessary to achieve optimal results. Close collaboration of an experienced surgical and anesthesia team is essential for induction and reversal of anesthesia. In addition, this team must be cognizant of complications from massive goiter surgery such as bleeding, airway distress, recurrent laryngeal nerve injury, and transient hypoparathyroidism. With careful preparation and teamwork, successful thyroid surgery can be achieved.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Goiter, Nodular / diagnostic imaging
  • Goiter, Nodular / surgery*
  • Goiter, Substernal / diagnostic imaging
  • Goiter, Substernal / surgery
  • Humans
  • Thyroid Gland / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Gland / surgery*
  • Thyroidectomy / methods
  • Ultrasonography

Supplementary concepts

  • Euthyroid Goiter