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      Airway Management of Retrosternal Goiters in 22 Cases in a Tertiary Referral Center

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          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.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Major complications of airway management in the UK: results of the Fourth National Audit Project of the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Difficult Airway Society. Part 1: anaesthesia.

          This project was devised to estimate the incidence of major complications of airway management during anaesthesia in the UK and to study these events. Reports of major airway management complications during anaesthesia (death, brain damage, emergency surgical airway, unanticipated intensive care unit admission) were collected from all National Health Service hospitals for 1 yr. An expert panel assessed inclusion criteria, outcome, and airway management. A matched concurrent census estimated a denominator of 2.9 million general anaesthetics annually. Of 184 reports meeting inclusion criteria, 133 related to general anaesthesia: 46 events per million general anaesthetics [95% confidence interval (CI) 38-54] or one per 22,000 (95% CI 1 per 26-18,000). Anaesthesia events led to 16 deaths and three episodes of persistent brain damage: a mortality rate of 5.6 per million general anaesthetics (95% CI 2.8-8.3): one per 180,000 (95% CI 1 per 352-120,000). These estimates assume that all such cases were captured. Rates of death and brain damage for different airway devices (facemask, supraglottic airway, tracheal tube) varied little. Airway management was considered good in 19% of assessable anaesthesia cases. Elements of care were judged poor in three-quarters: in only three deaths was airway management considered exclusively good. Although these data suggest the incidence of death and brain damage from airway management during general anaesthesia is low, statistical analysis of the distribution of reports suggests as few as 25% of relevant incidents may have been reported. It therefore provides an indication of the lower limit for incidence of such complications. The review of airway management indicates that in a majority of cases, there is 'room for improvement'.
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            Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies.

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              A new classification system for retrosternal goitre based on a systematic review of its complications and management.

              There is no standard definition for thyroid glands extending below the thoracic inlet, and there are no clear guidelines for pre-operatively identifying those patients that may require an intrathoracic approach. We therefore reviewed the current literature in order to establish the current practices regarding the management of retrosternal goitres (RSGs), and propose a classification system to aid pre-operative planning for this important group of patients. A PubMed Medline search was conducted using the search terms 'retrosternal', 'substernal', 'intrathoracic', 'mediastinal', 'goitre' and 'goiter', resulting in 626 hits. Exclusion criteria reduced the number of papers to the 34 used for this review. A total of 34 papers totaling 2426 patients were included. Eighty-four percent of patients operated on for RSG were achieved via a cervical approach, with the remainder also requiring manubriotomy (3.1%), full sternotomy (6.6%) or thoracotomy (4%). Tracheomalacia occurred in 1% of patients and Superior Vena Cava syndrome (SVC) in 3.2%. There was a clear and highly significant association between the extent and definition of RSG and reported complications, as well as the approach used, with the incidence of tracheomalacia, SVC and need for intrathoracic approach increasing more than 10-fold in cases of RSG reaching the aortic arch. There is a clear need to establish a common standard in the definition and description of the extent of RSG. Using our findings, we propose a new, simple, 3-grade classification system of RSGs, based on their relation with the aortic arch and the right atrium.

                Author and article information

                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                22 December 2020
                : 16
                : 1267-1273
                [1 ]Department of Anesthesiology, The First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University , Hangzhou 310003, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Department of Radiology, The First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University , Hangzhou 310003, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Shengmei Zhu; Yueying Zheng Department of Anesthesiology, The First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University , Hangzhou31003, People’s Republic of ChinaTel +86-13777408863 Email 1507128@zju.edu.cn
                © 2020 Pan et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 3, References: 19, Pages: 7
                Funded by: Experimental Animal Science and Technology Plan of Zhejiang Province;
                This work was supported by the Project of Experimental Animal Science and Technology Plan of Zhejiang Province [grant numbers2018C37116, Yueying Zheng].
                Original Research


                airway management, anesthesia, retrosternal goiter, postoperative tracheomalacia


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