Vietnam doctors remove calcified goiter from elderly woman

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A 74-year-old woman in Ho Chi Minh City with and without her giant, calcified neck tumor. Photo courtesy of An Binh Hospital

Doctors in Ho Chi Minh City have successfully removed a rare goiter that was threatening the life of a 74-year-old woman.

The patient, only identified by her initials L.M.A., was sent to An Binh private hospital recently and doctors found that her tumor had grown to point it registered within the largest category as defined by the World Health Organization.

The calcified goiter, which had become hard as rock, was putting pressure on nearby organs, causing hoarseness and breathing problems, doctors said.

Doctor Nguyen Minh Tuan from the surgery department of the hospital said his team could not remove the tumor with normal surgical tools, and had to use bone nippers used in orthopedic procedures.

Tuan said they had to leave a small part of the goiter that has become fibrotic and attached to the breathing tube, adding that such a small part would not enable the tumor to grow back.

He said normally, goiters have a soft and thin cover containing thyroid gland tissues, but A.'s goiter contained a grey mucous substance consisting of deteriorated tissues. Tests found its cover was comprised of bone and fiber tissues, among others.

Doctor Tuan said the tumor would have gone on to further inhibit other organs. "Without intervention, it was endangering the woman's life."

Tuan said the woman's poor health, including a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, myocardial ischemia or poor blood supply to the heart wall, made the surgery more challenging.

A. required the use of a respirator after the surgery, but stabilized within a week and is now able to breathe and eat normally.

Tuan said characteristics of her tumor were similar to those of Riedel's thyroiditis, a rare chronic form of thyroiditis in which the normal thyroid parenchyma transforms into dense fibrosis that invades structures of the neck, extending beyond the thyroid capsule.

A. received two surgeries to remove the tumor more than ten years ago, but it quickly returned.

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