Scintigraphic visualization of glossal thyroid tissue during the follow-up of thyroid cancer patients

Paolo Zanotti-Fregonara, Elif Hindié, Isabelle Keller, Marie Calzada-Nocaudie, Jean Yves Devaux

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Nests of thyroid tissue in the tongue are described in about 10% of necropsies. This ectopic thyroid tissue usually lies dormant, but may manifest itself during times of increased stimulation. The aim of our study was to assess the frequency of lingual thyroid visualization on I-131 diagnostic whole-body scan during the follow-up of thyroid cancer patients. MATERIAL AND METHODS: We reviewed the files of 548 consecutive patients who underwent a diagnostic whole-body scan with 200 MBq of I-131 between January 2000 and December 2005, as part of the follow-up for a differentiated thyroid cancer. Every patient had been previously treated with a total thyroidectomy and had received 3.7 GBq (100 mCi) of I-131 for remnant ablation. RESULTS: A focus of uptake located between the 2 submandibular salivary glands, suggestive of ectopic thyroid tissue in the tongue or in the upper part of the thyroglossal duct, was found in 5 of the 548 patients (0.9%). In only one of these patients was the uptake visible at the time of postsurgery thyroid remnant ablation scan. Thyroglobulin (Tg) levels were positive under stimulation in 3 of the 5 patients, and another patient had undetectable Tg, but positive anti-Tg antibodies. Radiologic imaging (MRI and/or ultrasound) was performed in 3 patients and confirmed the presence of a mass suggestive of ectopic thyroid tissue in two. Invasive lingual biopsy was not performed to verify the benign nature. CONCLUSION: When examining whole-body scans (therapeutic or diagnostic) in a patient with persistent Tg detection after thyroid ablation, one should carefully search for any uptake between the submandibular glands that may be suggestive of ectopic tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)911-914
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Nuclear Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • I-131 scintigraphy
  • Lingual thyroid
  • Thyroid cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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