Intrathyroidal carotid artery and nonrecurring right recurrent laryngeal nerve: A case report

Aaron Baker, Elizabeth E. Cottrill, Olivia Munizza, Kathryn McGillen, Tyler McKinnon, David Goldenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: When performing thyroidectomy, knowledge of normal anatomy and variants is vital to avoid injuring nearby structures. Typically, the bilateral carotids course posterolateral to the thyroid gland. We describe a rare variant of an intrathyroidal carotid artery, not previously described in the literature. Methods: A 23-year-old woman with a strong family history of thyroid cancer presented with a left thyroid nodule, and a fine-needle aspiration biopsy revealing papillary thyroid carcinoma. She underwent total thyroidectomy. Results: Intraoperatively, the carotid was found coursing centrally through the right lobe parenchyma, associated with an ipsilateral nonrecurrent recurrent laryngeal nerve (NRLN) entering the cricothyroid joint superolaterally. Conclusion: This is, to our knowledge, the first report of such an anatomic variant in the medical literature. Aberrant carotid artery anatomy may potentially cause life-threatening surgical complications and should be considered preoperatively. Furthermore, recognition of concurrent recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) anomalies with vascular variations allows identification of nonrecurrent nerves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E123-E126
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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