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01.12.2019 | Case report | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Emergency Medicine 1/2019

Acute respiratory failure secondary to a cervical goitre in a pregnant woman: a case report

BMC Emergency Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2019
Sidi Driss El jaouhari, Nawfal Doghmi, Hamza Najout, Massine El hamouni, El hassane Kabiri, Hicham Bekkali, Jaafar Salim Lalaoui, Mustapha Bensghir



Pregnancy constitutes a significant factor in thyroid hypertrophy and can rarely progress to respiratory distress. We describe case of pregnant woman with acute respiratory distress following a tracheal compression due to goiter, quickly resulting in respiratory arrest, requiring emergency orotracheal intubation and thyroidectomy.

Case presentation

A pregnant woman with a growing goiter was referred to the hospital with a respiratory difficulty. During the examination, we found a large homogeneous goiter. The patient showed signs of respiratory exhaustion with bradypnea and pulmonary auscultation revealing decreased ventilation of the two pulmonary fields. The evolution quick led to respiratory arrest. The patient was rapidly intubated, which saved her.
A thoracic computed tomography was performed and revealed a large goiter, compressing the trachea in its thoracic area and oppressing the vascular structures. Obstetrical ultrasound was normal. Thyroidectomy was decided after the patient’s preparation. After 24 h, the patient was successfully extubated without incident and the postoperative period was uneventful.


Airway obstruction during pregnancy secondary to goiter is rare but can be fatal. Early diagnosis might have avoided the evolution towards the respiratory failure. Prevention requires early surgery preferably before pregnancy or in our case a surgery in the second trimester.
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