High Incidence of Tracheomalacia in Longstanding Goiters: Experience from an Endemic Goiter Region
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Our institute caters to a large number of patients with large, longstanding multinodular goiters; tracheal deviation and resulting airway problems like tracheomalacia are relatively common. However, the literature is sparse on the criteria of early diagnosis and optimum management of tracheomalacia, which our study highlights.
This retrospective study analyzed 900 thyroidectomies carried out during 1990–2005 for which data from 28 patients treated for tracheomalacia after thyroidectomy were available for analysis. Criteria for making a diagnosis of tracheomalacia after thyroidectomy included one or more of the following: normal vocal cord mobility, absence of glottic or subglottic edema or hematoma, soft and floppy trachea on palpation, obstruction to spontaneous respiration on gradual withdrawal of the endotracheal tube.
Mean duration of thyroid enlargement was 13.75 years. Only 7 patients had a history of stridor. Tracheostomy was performed in 26 patients, and 2 patients were put on prolonged intubation. Tracheostomy was performed in 18 patients on the operating table, and 8 in the recovery room. The mean weight of the gland was 442 g and histopathology revealed that 11 cases were benign goiter. The tracheostomy tube was removed after an average of 8.5 days. There were no cases of tracheal stenosis on long-term follow-up.
Patients with longstanding goiter, even when benign, are more prone to develop tracheomalacia. On the basis of our experience we strongly advocate tracheostomy intraoperatively if the trachea is soft and floppy and/or collapse of the trachea is observed following gradual withdrawal of the endotracheal tube.
KeywordsGoiter Multinodular Goiter Tracheostomy Tube Tracheal Stenosis Prolonged Intubation
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