Pharyngeal fistulas in postoperative hypothyroid patients

Yoav P. Talmi, Yehuda Finkelstein, Yuval Zohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hypothyroidism is a well-recognized complication of combined treatment for head and neck cancer. We discuss four patients who developed pharyngeal fistulas after total laryngectomy and preoperative (one patient) or postoperative (three patients) radiation therapy. The fistulas were refractory to conservative and surgical repair. Once the existence of hypothyroidism was established, immediate substitution therapy resulted in rapid healing of the fistulas and marked improvement of the patients' general condition. Few clinical reports exist on postoperative hypothyroidism and wound healing complications. Experimental work shows delay and impairment of wound healing in hypothyroid animals as opposed to hyperthyroid ones, in which wound healing was accelerated. Suspicion is warranted in patients after treatment for head and neck cancer when they exhibit even minimal symptoms of hypothyroidism or develop postoperative complications refractory to conservative treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-268
Number of pages2
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1989


  • hypothyroidism
  • pharyngeal fistula
  • wound healing


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