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Laryngoscope. 1991 Sep;101(9):929-34.

The intraoperative management of the thyroid gland during laryngectomy.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80220.


The standard of care of laryngeal cancer surgery is wide field excision of the larynx combined with ipsilateral thyroid lobectomy. A retrospective review of 247 laryngectomies performed between 1979 and 1989 was undertaken to determine specific intraoperative indications for thyroid gland removal. The incidence of thyroid disease in our patients with laryngeal cancer was compared to the normal population. Eight percent of thyroid specimens removed during laryngeal cancer surgery demonstrated invasion by squamous cell carcinoma. All patients having thyroid invasion had T3 or T4 laryngeal lesions that were stage IV at the time of surgery. All these lesions were found to have transglottic growth and laryngeal cartilage invasion by the pathologist. All of these patients also had abnormal thyroid glands intraoperatively and laryngeal cartilage destruction that was evident intraoperatively. Total thyroidectomy with bilateral paratracheal and pretracheal lymph node dissection is indicated when squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx involves the thyroid gland. Prophylactic ipsilateral thyroid lobectomy and isthmusectomy is warranted for large laryngeal cancers (T3, T4) that involve the anterior commissure, the subglottic area, or extend transglottically. Routine thyroid gland removal is not indicated for the majority of laryngeal cancers that do not meet the aforementioned criteria. Finally, abnormal thyroid histopathology was diagnosed in 37% of the surgical thyroid gland specimens removed during laryngectomy.

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