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Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2008 Sep;393(5):751-7. doi: 10.1007/s00423-008-0338-y. Epub 2008 May 17.

Surgical management of mediastinal goiter: risk factors for sternotomy.

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  • 1Department of Endocrine Surgery, Third Chair of General Surgery Jagiellonian University College of Medicine, 35 Pradnicka Steet, 31-202, Krakow, Poland.



Mediastinal goiter constitutes an indication for surgical management. The procedure can most commonly be performed using the cervical access, but at times, a sternotomy or thoracotomy is necessary. The objective of the investigation was to analyze the prevalence and therapeutic results in patients with mediastinal goiter and to assess factors that affect the need of performing sternotomy in the course of mediastinal goiter surgery.


In the years 1984-2004, i.e., over 21 years, 11,849 patients with various types of goiter were operated on in the department. Mediastinal goiter was detected in 88 (0.76%) individuals. The analyzed material included 64 (72.7%) females and 24 (27.3%) males. The age of the patients ranged between 19 to 81 years, with the mean age of 61 +/- 13 years of life. The material was statistically analyzed. Risk factors for sternotomy were assessed using the multidimensional logistic regression method.


The highest percentage of mediastinal goiter was noted in patients operated on due to recurrent goiter (3.86%). Goiter situated in the anterior mediastinum was noted in 61 (69.3%) individuals, while 27 (30.7%) patients demonstrated goiter located in the posterior mediastinum; of the latter, nine were previsceral and 18 retrovisceral. In the majority of cases, these were primarily cervical goiters, which descended from the neck to the mediastinum (53 patients). Aberrant adenomas were diagnosed in 32 (36.4%) individuals. Four patients presented with the superior cava vein syndrome. Primary goiters evaluated intraoperatively with blood supply originating from the mediastinal vessels were observed in 12 (13.6%) cases. In 27 (30.7%) patients, sternotomies were necessary. In the majority of cases, these were individuals with goiters showing additional blood supply originating from the mediastinal vessels, patients with aberrant adenomas in the mediastinum, especially in recurrent goiters, or else subjects with goiters situated in the posterior mediastinum as compared to anterior mediastinal goiters. No postoperative mortality during stay in a hospital was noted.


Surgical management of patients with mediastinal goiter is the therapeutic modality that requires considerable experience of the surgical team, performed in specialized centers, and appropriate preoperative diagnostic management. Statistically significant risk factors for sternotomy are as follows: recurrent goiter, primary mediastinal goiter, posterior mediastinal location of goiter, and the presence of an aberrant adenoma situated in the mediastinum.

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