Fetal goitre

A fetal goitre is an enlargement of the thyroid gland in utero. It can occur with either hyper or hypothyroidism (and in isolated cases of euthyroidism 8).

The mechanism is different depending on whether the underlying cause is hyper or hypothyroidism

While antenatal detection is rare, once detected, it is important to evaluate fetal thyroid function in order for early treatment to be initiated if necessary.

A fetal goitre may be seen as a relatively homogenous anterior fetal neck mass. There is also evidence of polyhydramnios. If the goitre is very large the neck may appear hyperextended.

Some investigators have attempted to assess the hyper or hypothyroid status dependant on sonographic features 7 :

  • hypothyroid goitres  
    • more likely to have a peripheral vascular pattern on colour Doppler interrogation
    • may have evidence of delayed bone maturation
    • there may be an increase in fetal movement
  • hyperthyroid goitres 
    • more likely to have central vascularization
    • may have evidence of a fetal tachycardia
    • may have evidence of advanced bone maturity

Treatment will again depend on whether the fetus is hyper or hypothyroid.

Share article

Article information

rID: 13202
Section: Pathology
Tag: cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Fetal goiter
  • Enlarged fetal thyroid gland
  • Fetal thyroid enlargement
  • Fetal goiters

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    4D image of baby
    Case 1
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

    Alert accept

    Error Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.