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Alternative Names Return to topToxic multinodular goiter; Plummer's disease
Definition Return to top
Toxic nodular goiter involves an enlarged thyroid gland that contains a small rounded growth or growths called nodules. These nodules produce too much thyroid hormone.
Causes Return to top
Toxic nodular goiter arises from an existing simple goiter. It occurs most often in the elderly. Risk factors include being female and over 60 years old. This disorder is never seen in children.
Sometimes patients with toxic multinodular goiter will develop high thyroid levels for the first time after they receive a large amount of iodine through a vein (intravenously). The iodine may be contrast for a CT scan or heart catheterization.
Symptoms Return to top
Symptoms are those of hyperthyroidism. However, the bulging eyeballs seen in Graves disease do not occur.
Exams and Tests Return to top
A physical examination will show one or many nodules in the thyroid. There may be a rapid heart rate.
Other test results:
Treatment Return to top
Beta blockers (propranolol) can control some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism until thyroid hormone levels in the body are under control.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Because toxic nodular goiter is mainly a disease of the elderly, other chronic health problems may influence the outcome of this condition. The elderly person may be less able to tolerate the effect of hyperthyroidism on the heart.
Possible Complications Return to top
Thyroid crisis or storm is an acute worsening of hyperthyroidism symptoms. It may occur with infection or stress. Thyroid crisis may cause:
Immediate hospitalization is necessary.
Complications of having a very large goiter may include difficulty breathing. This is due to pressure on the airway passage that lies behind the thyroid.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this disorder. Follow the health care provider's recommendations for follow-up visits.
Prevention Return to top
To prevent toxic nodular goiter, treat hyperthyroidism and simple goiter as your health care provider recommends.
References Return to top
Ladenson P, Kim M. Thyroid. In: Goldman L and Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2007:chap 244.Update Date: 6/17/2008 Updated by: Elizabeth H. Holt, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Yale University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.