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Enlarged Thyroid (Substernal Goiter)

Shaped like a small butterfly, the thyroid gland sits at the base of your neck and in front of your windpipe (trachea). The thyroid can become enlarged (also known as a goiter) for a variety of reasons, including iodine deficiency, an autoimmune condition, infection and in rare cases, cancer. Small substernal goiters usually don’t cause discomfort or present any cosmetic issues. An enlarged thyroid, though, can extend into the chest and cause difficulty breathing and/or swallowing. Surgery to fully or partially remove the thyroid can help to permanently resolve these problems.

At NorthShore, most thyroid surgeries are performed by an endocrine surgeon or an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat surgeon). In cases where an enlarged thyroid extends down into the chest, our skilled thoracic surgeons work along with your thyroid surgeon to help remove these large goiters. These cases typically require either a partial or full sternotomy—open surgery that involves making an incision in the breastbone—to completely remove the goiter from the chest.

For More Information

To schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons, please call 847.570.2868.