Management of ectopic thyroid nodules

R. A. Kozol, G. W. Geelhoed, S. D. Flynn, B. Kinder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background. Surgical dictum states that the so-called lateral aberrant thyroid represents metastatic thyroid cancer. Methods and Results. We present sixteen cases of patients with benign ectopic thyroid tissue. Seven cases were discovered during evaluation and treatment of hyperparathyroidism. The remaining nine cases were discovered during the evaluation and treatment of thyroid disorders or cervical nodules. In fifteen cases there is benign histology on the nodules. One case has been followed for 4 years with scans revealing a normal thyroid gland with an unchanging ectopic thyroid nodule in the superior mediastinum. In eight of our cases there have been thyroid resections searching for occult carcinomas. Histologic examination on these eight thyroid glands revealed either normal thyroid or benign nodules. Conclusions. Not all lateral aberrant thyroid tissue is malignant. The histologic condition of the nodule combined with intraoperative examination of the ipsilateral thyroid lobe can reliably guide therapy. The old dictum concerning lateral aberrant thyroid representing metastatic cancer should be removed from or modified in review texts and surgical examinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1107
Number of pages5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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