Seventeen cases of large substernal goiter are reviewed. The commonest clinical features were frequent upper respiratory tract infections, dyspnea and a cervical mass. Five of the patients had previous thyroidectomy. The substernal goiter was located in the right chest in 11 cases, the left chest in five and bilaterally in one case. On computed tomograms it was pretracheal or prevascular in ten cases and retrovascular in seven. Tracheal deviation was present in 15 cases, causing tracheal compression or stenosis in 14. Thyroidectomy was performed on all 17 patients (8 subtotal, 9 total) through a low transverse collar incision. The recommended technique for substernal goiter extending from the neck to a level below the subcarinal region includes concomitant finger dissection and upward traction of the cervical thyroid through the subcapsular plane, with obliteration of the postresection substernal dead space by sutures. Follow-up radiography showed that all the deviated tracheas had resumed near normal position 2-3 months postoperatively and the average diameter of the compressed tracheas had increased significantly.
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