The lingual thyroid is a congenital deposit of thyroid tissue at the base of the tongue.


Clinical features:

(1) It appears as a reddish or purple midline mass at the base of the tongue.

(2) It tends to occur predominantly in women.

(3) It is usually painless.

(4) Symptoms may include dysphagia, cough, dyspnea and dysphonia.

(5) It may enlarge and bleed, especially during pregnancy.


Complications may include:

(1) enlargement (goiter)

(2) hyperfunctioning with hyperthyroidism

(3) malignant tumors (rare)


If removal is indicated it is essential to perform a thyroid scan to determine where and how much thyroid tissue there is in the neck. The lingual thyroid may represent all of the patient's thyroid tissue, so that it's removal can result in hypothyroidism.


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