The Lingual thyroid does not occur in everyone. It is a rare condition in which a muscular lump is attached to the base of the tongue. It is also known as an ectopic thyroid which means that it is not present at the desired place of the thyroid glands.

Lingual Thyroid

More than 90% of the ectopic thyroid is said to be lingual thyroid. The chances of the situation of lingual thyroid are very rare. So rare that it occurs in 1 out of  1,00,000 cases.  It occurs due to some abnormally and ectopic growth of the thyroid tissue. There are more chances of the condition of lingual thyroid occurring in females more than males.

Doctors can diagnose the condition of Lingual Thyroid by clinical examination or by radionuclide scanning.

lingual Thyroid


There is no specified structure for the lingual thyroid. As it is ectopic and is caused by the displacement of the tissues of the thyroid gland, it is an abnormal outgrowth. A person who has a lingual thyroid can clearly show it by opening his mouth. The lump or the muscular outgrowth is visible in the back of his/her mouth. 

It is often mistaken as a cancerous tumour and people get scared off easily. But actually, Lingual Thyroid has nothing to do with cancer as it is not caused by the abnormal growth of the cells which is usually the cause for cancer.


Lingual thyroid is not something that occurs in your Adult life. It occurs during embryonic development, to be more specific during the process of gestation. 7th week during the pregnancy the thyroid gland is to be formed. At this stage, the thyroid gland is in the form of an endodermal pouch which are the leftovers of the thyroglossal tract.

Usually, the thyroid gland has to descend from the foramen caecum but if sometimes this natural process is hindered it can result in the non-descent of the thyroid gland resulting in the formation of Lingual Thyroid.

This lingual thyroid can go undetected for children of a very young age. But as a person grows older, the abnormal mass of the lingual thyroid also grows in size. Sometimes, the medical diagnosis of lingual thyroid only becomes possible if the patient complains of choking-like feeling and blockage in the throat. This happens because of the lingual thyroid as it somehow obstructs the trachea.


The Lingual Thyroid can be diagnosed by medical practitioners. If the lump is quite big it can easily be checked. But for confirmation that the lump is not cancerous, the tissues of the lump might undergo biopsy which can confirm the origins of the lump and whether or not it is cancerous.

There are also ways to check the normal presence of the thyroid gland which are palpation and ultrasound scanning. So, if these results show positive results it means that the thyroid tissues are present where they are supposed to. But, if these tests give out negative results it means the thyroid glands are not naturally placed and there is a possibility of lingual thyroid.

The thyroid hormone levels are often normal or less than the expected amount which causes hypothyroidism. So, checking the thyroid level must not be the most reliable way to diagnose lingual thyroid.


The treatment of lingual thyroid can be both surgical and non-surgical. The surgical procedure includes excisions and extracting the lump. It can also include the repositioning of the lump through a surgical process to stop any obstruction caused by the lingual thyroid.

If the lump is not causing any hindrances, medications would be enough to control the medical situation of the lingual thyroid. Hormonal therapy can be given to people facing thyroid hormone issues due to the presence of the lingual thyroid.

Medicines like levothyroxine can be used to cure the condition of hypothyroidism and if it works effectively then the whole surgical process can be bypassed. For patients completely lacking thyroid glands, surgery could be the only method.

The tissues of the lingual thyroid can be repositioned and attached to the tissues of the neck. Hormone therapies can be expensive when done regularly. Thyroid hormones like T3 and TSH are required lifelong so a long-term remedy would be advisable. 

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