Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Black thyroid gland and tracheal cartilage
  1. Audrey Lam1,
  2. Brent Kaufmann2 and
  3. Kelly Cunningham3
  1. 1Division of Internal Medicine, Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, Illinois, USA
  2. 2Pulmonary and Critical Care, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, Urbana, Illinois, USA
  3. 3Otolaryngology, Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Audrey Lam; audrey.lam{at}


A woman in her 70s with a history of chronic minocycline use presented with complaints of a non-tender posterior neck mass. A thyroid gland ultrasound showed a highly suspicious right thyroid nodule. A total thyroidectomy revealed darkened discolouration of the thyroid gland and tracheal cartilage. The pathology report showed dark brown granules representing melanin. Chronic minocycline usage is known to cause pigmentation of nails, teeth, bones and the thyroid gland. Our case highlights the importance of recognising that long-term use of minocycline can cause discolouration of the thyroid and tracheal cartilage. Current case studies do not show any adverse health effects associated with black thyroid and tracheal cartilage. For patients who are to undergo neck surgery, physicians need to be aware of this side effect, and that further intervention, such as surgical resection, may not be required.

  • ear, nose and throat
  • ear, nose and throat/otolaryngology
  • unwanted effects / adverse reactions
  • thyroid disease

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors AL wrote the case report with review from KC and BK. KC performed the thyroidectomy.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Case reports provide a valuable learning resource for the scientific community and can indicate areas of interest for future research. They should not be used in isolation to guide treatment choices or public health policy.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.