Lingual thyroid is a rare and potentially harmless condition

Lingual thyroid is a developmental anomaly which results when there is incomplete migration of the thyroid. The condition is uncommon, and 80 percent of cases occur in women.

Dr Thomas Repas recently wrote in Endocrine Today about a patient who was seen at an urgent care facility for treatment of a bloody sore throat. He was diagnosed with strep throat and prescribed antibiotics. However, the young man's pain and bleeding became worse. He was then evaluated at another healthcare facility where a mass was noted in his throat.

After a CT scan was done, a lingual thyroid was diagnosed, as no thyroid tissue was seen in the usual location. In some patients, the tissue can cause symptoms of difficult swallowing, bleeding or obstruction. Radioiodine has been used by some physicians to shrink the thyroid and alleviate symptoms.

Most of the time, lingual thyroid is asymptomatic and many patients with the condition are hypothyroid. However, thyroid carcinoma only appears in about 30 reported cases.

An estimated 450,000 thyroid biopsies are performed each year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.