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Pharyngolaryngeal symptoms associated with thyroid disease

Nam, Inn-Chul; Park, Young-Hak

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: December 2017 - Volume 25 - Issue 6 - p 469–474
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0000000000000404

Purpose of review The current review summarizes previous reports on laryngopharyngeal symptoms associated with thyroid disease. This review also includes pharyngolaryngeal symptoms caused by thyroidectomy. However, we focus on pharyngolaryngeal symptoms following uncomplicated thyroidectomy, as this is an important issue in the fields of otolaryngology.

Recent findings An enlarged thyroid gland, as in thyroiditis, multinodular goiter, or large nodules, can cause compressive symptoms. Malignant nodules invading the recurrent laryngeal nerve and benign nodules compressing the nerve can cause vocal cord paralysis and hoarseness. Pharyngolaryngeal symptoms are known to develop after a thyroidectomy, generally as a result of injury to the superior or recurrent laryngeal nerve. However, recent studies have shown that various pharyngolaryngeal symptoms, such as globus symptoms and voice changes, occur after thyroidectomy in the absence of laryngeal nerve injury. These symptoms are known collectively as postthyroidectomy syndrome. Several possible explanations have been proposed and evaluated for postthyroidectomy syndrome.

Summary Several thyroid disorders can cause compressive symptoms and hoarseness. Superior and/or recurrent laryngeal nerve injury during thyroidectomy is the main cause of various pharyngolaryngeal symptoms. However, other pharyngolaryngeal symptoms that arise following thyroidectomy in the absence of nerve injury, a condition known as postthyroidectomy syndrome, are becoming more common.

Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to Young-Hak Park, MD, PhD, Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Yeouido St. Mary's Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 10, 63-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul 07345, Republic of Korea. Tel: +82 2 3779 1054; fax: +82 2 786 1108; e-mail:

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