Multinodular Goiter

General questions and answers about Multinodular Goiters

  • What symptoms can be related to a large goiter?
  1. Problems breathing while lying flat
  2. Problems swallowing solid foods
  3. Worsening snoring from growth under the breastbone (substernal goiter, noted below)
  • Will all of my symptoms go away if I have thyroid surgery?
    • This is a very difficult question to answer. If you are an otherwise very healthy person and you have a big thyroid gland, there is a good chance that removing your thyroid will relieve your symptoms. However, other medical problems such as heart disease, lung disease, asthma, and reflux can cause similar symptoms. In this situation it is difficult to predict which symptom will improve and by how much.
  • Do I have more of a chance of having cancer if I have lots of nodules?
    • The chance of you developing cancer is the same as if you had one nodule.
  • Is there another treatment besides surgery for thyroid nodules?
    • No. Studies have shown that medication does not shrink thyroid nodules.

Substernal goiter

  • What does a substernal goiter mean?
    • A substernal goiter is when your thyroid grows very large and extends below your breastbone where it can compress your windpipe in a non-easily accessible location.
  • Does this mean I have to have surgery?
    • Yes. Having a substernal goiter is by itself an indication for surgery.
  • Do I need to have my chest opened for this surgery?
    • This depends on how far down the thyroid extends below your collar bone. A CT scan of your chest will help determine the likelihood of the surgeon being able to take out your thyroid through a regular neck incision.
    • If your endocrine surgeon believes that the thyroid extends too far below the collarbone, he/she will have a chest surgeon assist during this part of your surgery and discuss all of these issues before your operation.