An unpredicted case of tracheal necrosis following thyroidectomy

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COD: 055-58 Categorie: ,

Giovanni Conzo, Alfonso Fiorelli, Antonietta Palazzo, Francesco Stanzione, Cristina Della Pietra, Mario Santini

Ann. Ital. Chir., 2012 83: 55-58

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Tracheal rupture is a rare condition, and its most common cause is head and neck injury. Nontraumatic disruption of the anterolateral fibrocartilaginous trachea is an exceptional complication following thyroidectomy with few cases reported in literature. We report a case of upper tracheal necrosis arising 15 days after uneventful total thyroidectomy and resulted in pneumomediastinum and subcutaneous emphysema. The patient felt a sudden pop in his neck following an episode of vigorous coughing and experienced rapid swelling in his neck. The presence of pneumomediastinum was diagnosed on chest Computed Tomography scan and bronchoscopy visualized a small perforation on the right side of the anterolateral tracheal wall. The first interesting aspect is that several factors (female gender, thyrotoxic goiter, wound infection or excessive use of diathermy) reported as possible cause of anterior tracheal necrosis in the previous reports are unlike for the present case. The second unusual point is the spontaneous healing of the tracheal tear. Considering the no-critical ill condition of the patient and the size of the tear we decide for a conservative treatment rather than surgical repair. Finally, our report underlights that the presence of subcutaneous emphysema following thyroidectomy should alert the possible existence of tracheal rupture. The favourable outcome of our patient shows that small tracheal perforation due to tracheal necrosis may be successfully treated with conservative treatment.

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