Thyroid Cysts in Cats: A Retrospective Study of 40 Cases

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Miller ML, Peterson ME, Randolph JF, et al.

J Vet Intern Med 2017;31:723-729.

BACKGROUND: Thyroid cysts are rare in cats and poorly documented. OBJECTIVES: To report distinguishing clinical features and treatment responses of cats with thyroid cysts. ANIMALS: Forty client-owned cats. METHODS: Retrospective review of medical records for cats with thyroid cysts confirmed by scintigraphy, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, or necropsy at 4 referral centers between 2005 and 2016. Signalment, clinical findings, diagnostic testing, treatment, and outcome were recorded. RESULTS: Cats ranged in age from 8 to 20 years with no apparent breed or sex predilection. 37 of 40 (93%) cats were hyperthyroid (duration, 1-96 months). Clinical findings included palpable neck mass (40/40, 100%), weight loss (15/40, 38%), dysphagia (8/40, 20%), decreased appetite (5/40, 13%), and dyspnea (4/40, 10%). Cysts were classified as small (</=8 cm(3) ) in 16 (40%) and large (>8 cm(3) ) in 24 (60%) cats. Of 25 cats treated with radioiodine, hyperthyroidism resolved in 23 (92%), whereas thyroid cysts resolved in 12 (50%). Radioiodine treatment resolved small cysts in 8 of 13 (62%) cats and large cysts in 4 of 11 (36%) cats. Eight cats, including 2 euthyroid cats, underwent thyroid-cystectomy; 3 with bilateral thyroid involvement were euthanized postoperatively for hypocalcemia. Excised cystic thyroid masses were identified as cystadenoma (4) and carcinoma (4). CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Thyroid cysts are encountered in hyperthyroid and euthyroid cats with benign and malignant thyroid tumors. Radioiodine treatment alone inconsistently resolved thyroid cysts. Thyroid-cystectomy could be considered in cats with unilateral thyroid disease or when symptomatic cysts persist despite successful radioiodine treatment of hyperthyroidism.