Zuckerkandl tubercle

Last revised by Mostafa Elfeky on 17 Sep 2020

Zuckerkandl tubercles are the projections of normal thyroid tissue from the posterior or posteromedial margin of the thyroid gland that extend posterior to the tracheoesophageal groove. They are present in most patients and occur more commonly on the right and in the longitudinal center 50% of the lobe 1,2.

The tubercle is an important surgical landmark as the recurrent laryngeal nerve passes immediately medial to it 3.

When it has a pedunculated or nodular appearance, sometimes due to the lateral impression of the common carotid artery, the tubercle can be mistaken for a thyroid nodule, enlarged parathyroid, or lymph node 1. Recognizing this finding as a normal variant is important for avoiding unnecessary concern. However, it should be noted that disease (e.g. thyroid cancer) can still occur within this structure. 

History and etymology

Named after Emil Zuckerkandl (1849-1910) 4, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Vienna, who described it in 1902. 

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: illustration
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 1: right Zuckerkandl tubercle
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2: nodular left Zuckerkandl tubercle
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 3: goiter involving Zuckerkandl tubercle
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 4
    Drag here to reorder.