Thyroid Hemiagenesis: Incidence, Clinical Significance, and Genetic Background

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Abstract

Context:

Thyroid hemiagenesis (THA) constitutes a rare, congenital disorder that is characterized by an absence of one thyroid lobe. Because the pathogenesis and clinical significance of this malformation remain undefined, specific clinical recommendations are lacking, especially for asymptomatic cases.

Evidence Acquisition:

The PubMed database was searched (years 1970 to 2017), and the following terms were used to retrieve the results: “thyroid hemiagenesis,” “thyroid hemiaplasia,” “one thyroid lobe agenesis,” and “one thyroid lobe aplasia.” Subsequently, reference sections of the retrieved articles were searched.

Evidence Synthesis:

There is a noticeable susceptibility of subjects with THA to develop additional thyroid and nonthyroidal pathologies. In pathogenesis of concomitant thyroid pathologies, a chronic elevation in thyroid-stimulating hormone values may play an important role. Thus far, genetic studies failed to find a common genetic background of the anomaly, and the potential underlying cause was identified in a minority of the cases.

Conclusions:

Patients with THA are prone to develop additional thyroid pathologies and theoretically might benefit from L-thyroxine treatment to lower the thyrotropin levels to those observed in the normal population. However, further research should be done to ascertain whether such intervention early in life would prevent development of associated thyroid conditions. At least, increased vigilance should be maintained to reveal all of the concomitant disorders as soon as possible during follow-up examinations. Application of high-throughput technologies enabling a genome-wide search for novel factors involved in thyroid embryogenesis might be the next step to expand the knowledge on THA pathogenesis.

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