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Isao Asayama, Takashi Ishikawa, Tetsu Yamada, Wataru Kitagawa, Kazuo Shimizu
Med Sci Monit 2004; 10(8): CS37-40
Background:Despite a decline after World War II, the rate of tuberculosis remains higher in Japan than in other countries. We report a case of tuberculous granuloma at the supra-sternal notch that was difficult to differentiate from a thyroid tumor.Case Report: The patient was a 75-year-old Japanese woman who was referred to our hospital for further investigations and treatment of an anterior neck tumor, that was diagnosed as a suspected of thyroid malignancy by another institute. The thyroid function and biological data were normal except for an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate. Imaging studies showed a mass at the supra-sternal notch, and the border between the tumor and the thyroid gland was indistinct. The tuberculosis bacillus group was identified by fine needle aspiration cytology. The patient was treated surgically for tuberculous granuloma, and histopathological findings revealed that the lymph node tuberuculosis had invaded the thyroid gland. We started anti-tuberculous therapy after the operation. The post-operative course was uneventful with good wound healing.Conclusions: When a markedly elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate and c-reactive protein value are associated with an anterior neck mass, tuberculosis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of thyroid swelling. Fine needle aspiration cytology is a rapid, simple and effective diagnostic method for extra-pulmonary tuberculous lesions involving the neck. When there is abscess formation or features of compression, or if the mass cannot be differentiated from a thyroid tumor, combined therapy involving anti-tuberculous agents and surgery must be considered.