Acute Infectious Thyroiditis - Symptoms/Diagnosis


In most cases AIT is characterized by onset of pain, firmness, tenderness, redness or swelling in the anterior aspect of the neck. Patients will also present with a sudden fever, dysphagia and dysphonia. Symptoms may be present from 1 to 180 days, with most symptoms lasting an average of about 18 days. The main issue associated with the diagnosis of AIT is differentiating it from other more commonly seen forms of thyroid conditions. Pain, fever and swelling are often much more severe and continue to get worse in patients who have AIT compared to those with other thyroid conditions. Patients who are suspected of having AIT often undergo tests to detect for elevated levels of white blood cells as well as an ultrasound to reveal unilobular swelling. Depending on the age and immune status of the patient more invasive procedures may be performed such as fine needle aspiration of the neck mass to facilitate a diagnosis. In cases where the infection is thought to be associated with a sinus fistula it is often necessary to confirm the presence of the fistula through surgery or laryngoscopic examination. While invasive procedures can often tell definitively whether or not a fistula is present, new studies are working on the use of computed tomography as a useful method to visualize and detect the presence of a sinus fistula.

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