Complications from tracheal resection for thyroid carcinoma

Nicola Rotolo, Maria Cattoni, Andrea Imperatori


Thyroidectomy associated to en bloc tracheal resection with end-to-end anastomosis is the treatment of choice of thyroid tumor invading the tracheal wall and is associated with a good prognosis. However, the postoperative morbidity is not irrelevant. The present review aims to discuss the complications occurring after this aggressive surgical procedure. The search was performed using PubMed through an overarching for the following terms: “complication of tracheal resection [AND] invasive thyroid cancer”. Postoperative complications rate after tracheal sleeve resection with end-to-end anastomosis for thyroid cancer invading tracheal wall range from 15% to 39%. Postoperative mortality is about 1.2%. The most common postoperative complications are: anastomotic dehiscence, airway stenosis, infections and bleeding. Tumor local recurrence can be considered a late on set complication. To conclude, in locally invasive thyroid cancer, en bloc resection of the thyroid with the tracheal segment interested by the tumor provides a good prognosis despite the non-negligible postoperative morbidity rate. Patients’ selection and accurate surgical technique performing a tracheal tension-free anastomosis are mandatory to reduce postoperative morbidity and mortality.