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Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2010 Sep;395(7):873-6. doi: 10.1007/s00423-010-0683-5. Epub 2010 Jul 23.

Is fine-needle aspiration cytology for thyroid nodules a routine and safe procedure? A series of emergency cervicotomies following FNAC.

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  • 1Unit of General Surgery, Hospital of Massa, Massa, Italy.



Fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is a widely used diagnostic tool to assess thyroid lesions, with a low morbidity rate. Although neck hematomas following FNAC are reported, only four cases of massive hemorrage resulting in acute airways obstruction have been previously described.


We report a series of three emergency cervicotomies for a massive neck hematoma causing acute respiratory distress after a thyroid FNAC.


Endotracheal intubation followed by decompressive cervicotomy and surgical neck exploration was made in all patients. Two patients underwent isthmectomy, while a left thyroid lobectomy plus left lateral neck lymphadenectomy was performed in the third case. Extubation was achieved within 12 h in the ICU. All patients were discharged uneventfully within 72 h.


Acute thyroid hemorrage is a very rare but possible complication of FNAC, potentially fatal for the patient. Prompt evaluation and intervention is mandatory for patients with rapidly evolving symptoms.

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