Head & neck 2017 10 1139(12) E123-E126 doi 10.1002/hed.24970
When performing thyroidectomy, knowledge of normal anatomy and variants is vital to avoid injuring nearby structures. Typically, the bilateral carotids course posterolateral to the thyroid gland. We describe a rare variant of an intrathyroidal carotid artery, not previously described in the literature.
A 23-year-old woman with a strong family history of thyroid cancer presented with a left thyroid nodule, and a fine-needle aspiration biopsy revealing papillary thyroid carcinoma. She underwent total thyroidectomy.
Intraoperatively, the carotid was found coursing centrally through the right lobe parenchyma, associated with an ipsilateral nonrecurrent recurrent laryngeal nerve (NRLN) entering the cricothyroid joint superolaterally.
This is, to our knowledge, the first report of such an anatomic variant in the medical literature. Aberrant carotid artery anatomy may potentially cause life-threatening surgical complications and should be considered preoperatively. Furthermore, recognition of concurrent recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) anomalies with vascular variations allows identification of nonrecurrent nerves.