We have recently found ethnic differences in superior thyroid artery (STA) variational. anatomy. Therefore, we now focus on the inferior thyroid artery (ITA). In particular, we analyze whether presence, numerical variations and site of origin of ITA are influenced by ethnic group and gender, whether and which neck side has the largest arterial caliber, whether differences occur between the presence of ITA and STA, to which extent a non-selective thyroid angiography is effective in visualizing ITA, also in comparison to STA, and which clinical value this information may have in selected pathologies of the thyroid, parathyroid and larynx. A meta-analysis has been performed, including 33 library- and Medline-selected publications on Caucasoids (European and non-European) and East Asians, and a set of original data on European Caucasoids. A total of 6285 Caucasoid and 847 East Asian items, comprising half bodies and arteries, were analyzed. After testing the homogeneity of the available data sources in relation to the anatomical variables under study we calculated a cumulative value for each selected anatomical parameter and evaluated differences using non-parametric statistics. The effectiveness of nonselective thyroid angiography was determined using sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values. The ITA was more frequently absent in East Asians than in Caucasoids, and respectively either more or less frequently arising from thyrocervical and subclavian arteries, in East Asians versus Caucasoids. In contrast, the ITA was less frequently present both in Caucasoids and East Asians than the STA. In addition, the ITA was more frequently present on the right than on the left side in both ethnic groups, but no neck side predominated in size of arterial caliber in European Caucasoids. Finally, the ITA was more frequently present in East Asian mates than females, and the effectiveness of a non-selective thyroid angiography showed higher numbers for ITA than STA in Caucasoids. Statistically significant variations occur in some ITA parameters between Caucasoids and East Asians, and in its presence with respect to STA, within each ethnic group. These differences, together with a sexual dimorphic presence of ITA in East Asians and high effectiveness of its visualization by non-selective angiography in European Caucasoids, may represent an evidence-based supply of anatomical information for analysis in selected pathologies of the thyroid, parathyroid and larynx. (c) 2005 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
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