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Surgery. 1999 Dec;126(6):1078-87; discussion 1087-8.

Invasive differentiated thyroid carcinoma: tracheal resection and reconstruction procedures in the hands of the endocrine surgeon.

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Department of Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, Hannover University Medical School, Germany.



Although differentiated carcinoma of the thyroid gland is a relatively benign tumor, up to 20% of patients are endangered by potentially fatal complications resulting from infiltrating tumor growth into the upper aerodigestive tract.


This study included 33 patients who underwent 34 tracheal or laryngotracheal procedures for invasive differentiated thyroid carcinoma under the direction of a single surgeon (G.F.W.S.). From 1990 to 1994, radical tumor extirpation was performed by "window" resection, and from 1995 to 1998, radical surgery consisted of either circumferential sleeve resection or laryngotracheal "step" resection--a novel method of reconstruction in cases of unilateral tumor infiltration into the larynx and trachea. Resection was limited to laminar ablation in 17 cases. The mean follow-up of 16 patients who survived was 42.5 months (range, 2 months to 8.9 years).


Procedures resulting in primary end-to-end anastomosis of the upper airways were associated with lower perioperative morbidity and improved recurrence-free survival when compared with "window" resections with muscle flap reconstruction. In cases of superficial tracheal tumor infiltration, laminar ablations were sufficient for local tumor control.


Radical eradication of differentiated thyroid carcinoma infiltrating the upper airways followed by radioiodine application should be considered the treatment of choice. Laryngotracheal "step" resection allows tumor extirpation with preservation of neural and muscular structures of the larynx.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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