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Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2000 Dec;109(12 Pt 1):1135-9.

Morphology of the human thyroglossal tract: a histologic and macroscopic study in infants and children.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Leopold-Franzens-Universit├Ąt, Innsbruck, Austria.


The anatomic development of thyroglossal tract remnants is not understood at present. For analysis of morphology and growth patterns of thyroglossal tract remnants, we used histologic whole organ serial sections to determine developmental changes through the first years of life. Larynges of 58 infants and children ages 1 month to 13 years were obtained in whole organ serial step-sections in an axial plane. The slides were stained with hematoxylin and eosin, Alcian blue, and periodic acid-Schiff stains. Altogether, 3,247 histologic slices were examined. The resulting data were then correlated with the age and sex of the specimens. We found, in 24 cases (41.3%), remnants of the thyroglossal tract or ectopic thyroid tissue. In 4 specimens (16.6%), a complete thyroglossal tract could be observed that presented a ventral path in relation to the hyoid bone with no contact with the perichondrium of the cartilage. Hormonal activity of ectopic thyroid tissue was proven in 20 cases (34.5%). Thyroid follicles were located in 2 cases (3.5%) in the hyoid bone. The thyroglossal ducts revealed a modest tendency for a left-sided pathway, whereas thyroid follicles were located more on the right paramedian side. Morphometric data on the development and structure of the thyroglossal tract and the thyroid follicles during infancy and childhood are presented. The study provides quantitative data of clinical interest that elucidate the anatomy of thyroglossal tract remnants. In addition, our investigation supports Sistrunk's operative approach for avoiding recurrences in the treatment of thyroglossal duct cysts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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