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Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2012 Apr;14(4):500-1. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivr126. Epub 2012 Jan 9.

It sometimes happens: late tracheal rupture after total thyroidectomy.

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  • 1Thoracic Surgery Unit, S. Croce e Carle City Hospital, Cuneo, Italy.


Thyroidectomy is a safe procedure often performed either for benign or malignant thyroid diseases. Complication rate is low and tracheal injury associated with thyroidectomy is rarely described. The trachea may be perforated or lacerated intraoperatively; nevertheless, damage is usually recognized and directly repaired with reduced patient morbidity. We review a case of a 45-year-old male with a history of non-invasive thyroid cancer who underwent a total thyroidectomy with a tracheal necrosis and a subsequent rupture presenting 4 days following surgical operation. At home, while coughing, the patient experienced rapid swelling of neck, face and upper part of the chest. Computed tomography scan images demonstrated extensive subcutaneous emphysema and a defect in cervical trachea, confirmed also by bronchoscopy. The patient, without delay, underwent an exploration of the neck with a debridement of laceration. In view of the fact that a local infection was present, only a right pre-thyroid muscle flap was stitched on the defect. The patients recovered uneventfully.

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