Background. Our objective was to evaluate morbidity and mortality of thyroidectomy in substernal goiters and identify patients at risk for these events. Methods. The medical records of 127 patients with substernal goiters were retrospectively reviewed. Results. The most common preoperative symptom was shortness of breath (48%). 13% of the 127 patients were asymptomatic. Preoperative imaging identified tracheal deviation in 69% and tracheal compression in 41% of the cases. Substernal goiters were resected via a cervical approach in 100% of the cases. Six patients (5%) had postoperative hoarseness, 1 had permanent vocal cord paralysis, and 19 (15%) had transient postoperative hypocalcemia. The mortality and permanent hypoparathyroidism were null. Patients with postoperative complications had larger goiters and were more likely to have tracheal compression. Conclusions. Thyroid resection via a cervical approach for substernal goiters is associated with low rate of morbidity and no mortality. Patients with large tumors and tracheal compression are more likely to develop postoperative complications.
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