Parapharyngeal lymph node metastasis is very rare in patients with thyroid carcinoma. In this study, we elucidated on the clinical features, diagnosis, surgical treatment, and outcomes for patients with parapharyngeal lymph node metastases from thyroid carcinoma.
Patients with thyroid carcinoma who had been subjected to surgery through the transcervical approach at our institution between April 1999 and January 2019 were retrospectively enrolled in this study.
Parapharyngeal lymph node metastases were successfully resected through the transcervical approach in all the 97 patients. There were 32 treatment-naïve patients, while 65 patients had a history of treatment before parapharyngeal lymph node metastases. All 97 cases of parapharyngeal lymph node metastases were detected by enhanced CT scans. Lateral neck lymph nodes metastases were confirmed in 96 patients. Unexpected postoperative neurological side effects were reported in 11 (11%) patients, including dysphagia in 5 (5%) patients, Horner’s syndrome in 2 (2%) patients, glossal deviation in 3 (3%) patients, and asymmetrical mouth in 1 (1%) patient. During the follow-up period, 6 of the 97 patients exhibited parapharyngeal lymph node recurrence (recurrence rate 6.2%). The incidence of distant metastases was 44.3% (43 out of 97). The 5- and 10-year disease-specific survival was 93.4% and 88.9%, respectively.
Parapharyngeal lymph node metastases should be considered in patients with widespread cervical lymph node metastases. Enhanced CT scan is one of the best methods for diagnosing such metastases. Surgical resection through the transcervical approach is an effective and safe option for patients with parapharyngeal lymph node metastases from thyroid carcinoma. Moreover, parapharyngeal lymph node metastasis is associated with distant metastases that may lead to poor prognosis.

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