Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome has been linked to obesity, nasal obstruction and adenotonsillar hypertrophy, but rarely to large thyroid goitres.
To study the possible association between multinodular retrolaryngo-pharyngeal or retrosternal goitres and obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome.
Retrospective case series at a tertiary referral centre (2000–2010). Study parameters included body mass index, Epworth sleep score and polysomnographic index.
Five patients were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome and managed with nasal continuous positive airway pressure ventilation. Computed tomography showed a retrolaryngo-pharyngeal or retrosternal goitre with significant tracheal compression, displacement and laryngeal oedema. After total thyroidectomy, obstructive sleep apnoea resolved in all patients.
Large, multinodular goitres with retrolaryngo-pharyngeal extension can cause obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome due to laryngeal compression and oedema. In such cases, total thyroidectomy enables resolution of symptoms. Patients with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome should be screened for thyroid goitre.
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