SUBACUTE THYROIDITIS MANIFESTING AS A THYROID MASS, VOCAL CORD PARALYSIS, AND HYPERCALCEMIA

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Abstract

Objective:

To report a case of subacute thyroiditis manifesting as a thyroid mass, vocal cord paralysis, and hypercalcemia.

Methods:

We describe the clinical, laboratory, and radiologic findings in a patient with an unusual clinical course of subacute thyroiditis.

Results:

A 65-year-old woman presented with a hoarse voice and an enlarging tender mass in the right side of the neck. On admission, thyroid function was consistent with thyrotoxicosis from subacute thyroiditis. Laboratory studies showed a corrected serum calcium concentration of 11.4 mg/dL, intact parathyroid hormone of 125 pg/mL, 25-hydroxyvitamin D of 12 ng/mL, and creatinine of 1.8 mg/dL. Computed tomography of the neck without use of a contrast agent showed a heterogeneous mass in the right side of the neck in conjunction with deviation of the trachea from right to left but without invasion of the trachea. Thyroid ultrasonography disclosed a heterogeneous mass in the right thyroid lobe measuring 4.7 cm by 5.5 cm by 4.5 cm. Flexible laryngoscopy revealed right vocal cord paralysis. Treatment with a course of prednisone yielded normalization of the serum calcium level, improvement in her voice, and a decrease in size of the thyroid mass. Four months after initial presentation of the patient, thyroid hormone levels became normal, she was clinically euthyroid, and she had a full recovery of her voice. Her serum calcium concentration was normal (9.8 mg/dL) in association with a near-normal parathyroid hormone level of 90 pg/mL. The 25-hydroxyvitamin D and creatinine values were also normal. Repeated thyroid ultrasonography showed a smaller right thyroid lobe with a dominant nodule measuring 2.0 cm by 1.3 cm by 1.4 cm in the right upper pole.

Conclusion:

This case illustrates that subacute thyroiditis can have the unusual initial manifestations of a thyroid mass, vocal cord paralysis, and hypercalcemia. In similar patients, a trial of corticosteroid therapy may be warranted in an effort to improve clinical symptoms and thus avoid unnecessary surgical treatment.

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