Thyroid Swelling: A Common Phenomenon in Art?

Eur Thyroid J. 2018 Oct;7(5):272-278. doi: 10.1159/000488315. Epub 2018 May 3.


Representations of thyroid swelling, intended as an enlarged anterior neck region, in the artworks of various periods are sporadically reported in the scientific literature, and different intents may be hypothesized. A comprehensive review of the international literature was performed on PubMed, Embase, and ResearchGate with the aim to analyze the modalities of representation of thyroid swelling through the ages by different artistic movements. Thyroid swelling is frequently represented in the artworks of many stylistic periods and seems to be a known condition even by the earliest cultures. Thyroid swelling may be considered a common finding among forms of art distant in time and style. It is not always possible to define whether thyroid swelling is a realistic representation or a detail added by the author. Although the function of the gland was discovered only at the end of the 19th century, thanks to the artworks of authors in many cultures, it is nowadays possible to formulate hypotheses about the distribution of thyroid diseases over the centuries.

Keywords: Art; Endemic goiter; History; Thyroid swelling.