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Clinical Problem Solving: Radiology
September 2007

Radiology Quiz Case 2: Diagnosis

Author Affiliations


Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2007;133(9):943-944. doi:10.1001/archotol.133.9.943

Ectopic thyroid refers to thyroid tissue that is found in a location other than its typical paratracheal position. Embryologically, the thyroid gland develops as a diverticulum from the foramen cecum, migrates anterior to the developing hyoid bone, and descends into the inferior aspect of the neck.1 Ectopic thyroid tissue can remain anywhere along this tract and is classified based on its presenting location as lingual (at the foramen cecum), sublingual (between the geniohyoid and mylohyoid muscles), or subhyoid (at or below the hyoid bone). Ectopic thyroids have also been reported within the mediastinum, heart, trachea, and esophagus and in such subdiaphragmatic locations as the duodenum and porta hepatis.1,2 Approximately 90% of reported ectopic thyroid cases have been found in a lingual location; such ectopic tissue is the only functional thyroid in 75% of these cases.3

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