The present study aimed to investigate the incidence and extent of difficult airway management in patients with massive retrosternal goiter.
An 8-year retrospective analysis was performed to identify patients who underwent massive retrosternal thyroidectomy. A total of 22 cases were identified as giant retrosternal goiter, followed by a review of each patient’s preoperative computerized tomography imaging.
There were no cases of failed intubation. Twenty patients underwent uneventful tracheal intubation using direct laryngoscopy or Glidescope. Thirteen patients received a muscle relaxant intravenously, and two patients were induced with sevoflurane. Five patients underwent awake tracheal intubation, including awake fiberoptic intubation in three patients. Before entering the operating theatre, the remaining two patients underwent oral tracheal intubation with Glidescope in the emergency department.
Two patients had tracheal intubation before they entered the operating theatre. Once entering vocal cords, tracheal intubation can pass beyond the site of the tracheal obstruction without difficulty. One patient died because of serious perioperative bleeding owing to the adhesion between the retrosternal goiter and large vessel within the thoracic cavity. One patient experienced dyspnea after extubation and was intubated again.
Intravenous induction of muscle relaxant using laryngoscopy or Glidescope is feasible in patients with massive benign retrosternal goiter. The incidence of difficult intubation and postoperative tracheomalacia is likely too rare. Furthermore, perioperative bleeding and postoperative airway complication seem frequent.