In Germany, which is one of the countries with a low iodine content, thyroid enlargement (also known as goiter or "goitre") is quite common. Women are affected about four times more frequently than men. Most often, a goiter develops between the ages of 20. and 40. Age.
At the Schon Kliniken we specialize in thyroid diseases. We offer various therapeutic procedures to cure your condition.
What is an enlargement of the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is located on the front of the neck under the larynx and next to the trachea and esophagus. A normal-sized thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped and consists of two lobes that are connected to each other. At the back are the parathyroid glands.
The thyroid gland produces certain hormones, the main component of which is iodine. They are jointly responsible for normal metabolism. If the thyroid gland does not get enough iodine, it cannot produce enough hormones. To compensate for the hormone deficiency, the thyroid gland is stimulated in its growth, forms new glandular cells and enlarges itself.
On average, the thyroid gland has a normal volume of up to 18 ml. The thyroid gland is said to be enlarged when its total volume exceeds 25 ml in men and 25 ml in women. 18 ml in women exceeds. Enlargement may affect the entire tissue or may originate selectively from single or multiple nodules in the thyroid gland. In addition to the pure increase in size or nodular change, there are often accompanying functional disorders.
"Warm" or. "cold" nodes
In the individual nodes of the thyroid gland, the absorbed iodine is processed to different degrees into hormones. With the help of so-called scintigraphy – an examination in which weakly radioactive iodine is administered into the veins – the ability to produce hormones is made visible.
Metabolically active areas in which a particularly large amount of iodine is processed and thus too many hormones are produced are called "hot nodes". As a rule, these are benign changes. However, if they produce too much thyroid hormone, they must be removed to avoid hyperthyroidism.
In "warm nodules" about the same amount of hormones are produced as in the rest of the thyroid tissue. Warm nodules are always benign.
Areas in the thyroid gland, on the other hand, where no iodine is absorbed and almost no thyroid hormone is produced are called "cold nodules". In this case, there is a suspicion that the cells are malignant.
Enlargement of the thyroid gland: causes
The most common cause of thyroid enlargement is dietary deficiency of iodine, which is needed to make thyroid hormones. If there is not enough iodine available, the thyroid gland reacts by increasing in size.
However, another thyroid disease, such as thyroiditis, thyroid nodules or even cancer, can also lead to an enlarged thyroid gland.
- Graves’ Disease
- Certain medications such as thyrostatic drugs (for hyperthyroidism) or lithium (for manic-depressive illness)
- Cysts in the thyroid gland
Symptoms: Signs of thyroid enlargement
Diagnostics: This is how we detect an enlargement of the thyroid gland
First, we determine the volume of your thyroid gland by means of an ultrasound examination. Nodules, enlargements, structures suspected of being cancerous, calcifications and cysts can also be easily identified in this process. With the help of the already mentioned scintigraphy we can then further differentiate existing nodes.
Cold nodules may be suspected of being cancerous. For a precise overall assessment, laboratory tests follow in this case to determine the thyroid hormone levels in the blood.