Thyroidectomy for goiter relieves obstructive sleep apnea: Results of 8 cases | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Thyroidectomy for goiter relieves obstructive sleep apnea: Results of 8 cases

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July 14, 2011
by Mark T. Agrama, MD


The author conducted a retrospective study of 8 adults with euthyroid goiter that had resulted in tracheal compression and led to moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of thyroidectomy on the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) in these patients and to determine if there is a relationship between tracheal compression and OSA. These patients had been treated by the author in a community hospital over a 4-year period. All 8 patients had reported compressive symptoms of orthopnea and dysphagia, and 3 of them also reported dyspnea. Computed tomography of the neck and chest had been used to confirm the extent of goiter and tracheal compression. OSA had been confirmed with preoperative polysomnography. At 90 days post-thyroidectomy, repeat polysomnography had been obtained. At follow-up, all 8 patients had reported symptomatic control of compressive symptoms, and 7 patients had demonstrated postoperative improvement in their AHI. Overall, the mean postoperative AHI had decreased from 52.1 to 36.6-a statistically significant reduction of 29.8% (p < 0.05). The results of this study suggest that thyroidectomy for tracheal compression secondary to goiter can significantly alleviate symptoms and improve AHI in those patients who experience OSA. Evaluation of all patients with OSA should include screening for goiter-induced tracheal compression.

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