Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (Ear, Nose, and Throat)
Head & Neck Thyroidectomy
About a Thyroidectomy | Reasons for a Thyroidectomy | Preparing for a Thyroidectomy | Recovery | Risks
About a Thyroidectomy
A thyroidectomy is a procedure in which the doctor surgically removes all or part of the thyroid gland.
A general anesthetic will be given to relax your muscles and keep you from feeling pain. The doctor will make a cut in your neck and expose the thyroid gland. The doctor will clamp off part of the blood supply to the thyroid gland, remove all or part of the thyroid gland, and send it to the lab for immediate analysis.
When indicated, the doctor will receive a lab report during the procedure reporting whether that part of the thyroid is cancerous. Based on the results from the lab, the doctor may end the operation or may remove another part of the thyroid gland and close the cut.
Reasons for a Thyroidectomy
A thyroidectomy may be performed when you have an overactive thyroid gland, thyroid nodules, or cancerous cells in your thyroid gland. If your doctor suspects cancer, a sample will probably be taken from the gland at the time of surgery and sent to the lab for analysis. If cancer is confirmed, your thyroid gland will be removed.
Alternatives to this procedure include:
Using thyroid medication; this may eliminate the benefit of a doctor being able to make a specific diagnosis
Using radioactive iodine isotope to treat an overactive thyroid
Needle aspiration of a nodule
Preparing for a Thyroidectomy
Plan for your care and recovery after the operation. Allow for time to rest and try to find other people to help you with your day-to-day duties. Follow instructions provided by your doctor. Eat a light meal, such as soup or salad, the night before the procedure. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight and the morning before the procedure. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
Recovery From a Thyroidectomy
You may be able to go home the day of your surgery, or you may be in the hospital for one to two days. You will have a scar on the front of your neck. If the doctor removed all or a large part of the thyroid gland, you will have to take hormone medication for the rest of your life. Ask your doctor what steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup.
There are some risks when you have general anesthesia. Discuss these risks with your doctor. The nerves near the thyroid may be injured. These nerves are necessary in order to speak normally. If the nerves are damaged, the damage may be permanent and your voice may be permanently hoarse. The parathyroid glands may be injured in this operation. The hormones produced by these glands control the amount of salts in the blood, such as calcium. You need to have the correct level of calcium and phosphorus in your blood to have normal nerve and muscle function. If the parathyroid glands cannot function after the operation, you may need treatment with calcium pills and/or hormones. If there was cancer, not all the cancer may be removed. The cancer may grow back.
Call the Doctor Immediately if: