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Horm Res. 2002;57(1-2):53-6.

Graves' disease presented as painful goiter.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Pain in the thyroid gland is rarely present in Graves' disease. We describe a 32-year-old female hyperthyroid Graves' disease patient with an initial manifestation of painful goiter. On physical examination, the thyroid gland was diffusely enlarged and tender. The laboratory examinations showed high serum thyroid hormone and low thyrotropin values. Serum inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate, were elevated. Thyroid ultrasound revealed multiple focal hypoechoic areas. All these findings gave an initial impression of an acute inflammatory and destructive process in the thyroid gland. However, subsequent thyroid scintigraphy demonstrated a diffuse radioactive iodide uptake pattern with positive serum thyrotropin receptor antibodies. Fine-needle aspiration cytology showed only the presence of lymphocytes. She was diagnosed as having Graves' disease and was treated with propylthiouracil, and prednisolone was given for neck pain. Within a few days, the thyroid tenderness dramatically improved, and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate progressively normalized. However, follow-up thyroid function tests still showed high serum thyroid hormone levels. The possible etiologies of a painful thyroid gland in Graves' disease will be discussed.

Copyright 2002 S. Karger AG, Basel

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