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BACKGROUND: The simple nodular goiter, the etiology of which is multifactorial, encompasses the spectrum from the incidental asymptomatic small solitary nodule to the large intrathoracic goiter, causing pressure symptoms as well as cosmetic complaints. The mainstay in the diagnostic evaluation is related to functional and morphological characterization with serum TSH and (some kind of) imaging. Because malignancy is just as common in patients with a multinodular goiter as patients with a solitary nodule, the increasing use of fineneedle aspiration biopsy (cytology) is supported. Its management is still the cause of considerable controversy. Prevalence of nodular goiter and results of surgical treatment in a large series of patients operated on at our center are reported. METHODS: From January to December 2004, 1009 out of 1580 patients admitted to our Center underwent surgical treatment for thyroid disease. RESULTS: Nodular goiter accounted for 80% of the whole series. More in detail, toxic multinodular goiter was found in 13.5% of the patients, euthyroid multinodular goiter in 46.6%, single hyperplastic nodule in 2.3%, follicular lesion in 14%, Plummer’s adenoma in 4.4%, relapsing goiter in 2.6 % and thyroid cyst in 0.12%. Thyroid lobectomy was carried out in 20.8% of patients, while the remaining 79.2% underwent to total thyroidectomy. A carcinoma was incidentally found in 7.6% of the multinodular goiters. CONCLUSIONS: Surgery should be advocated for the treatment of thyroid nodules whenever a patient presents with either pressure symptoms, hyperthyroidism or follicular cytology. Serum TSH measurement, ultrasounds and fine needle aspiration cytology are the main diagnostic tools. Bilateral surgical exploration of the gland should be always carried out to assess the extension of the disease. Total or near total thyroidectomy in order to minimize the risk of recurrent nerve palsy and hypoparathyroidism represents the treatment of choice for bilateral goiter. Thyroid lobectomy with frozen section should be limited to unilateral nodular goiter.