Thyroid gland removal
Thyroid gland removal is surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland.
- Total thyroidectomy removes the entire gland.
- Subtotal or partial thyroidectomy removes part of the thyroid gland.
Thyroidectomy is done while you are under general anesthesia (unconscious and pain-free). Sometimes it is done with regional anesthesia (awake, but pain-free). The surgeon makes a cut in the neck and locates the gland. All or part of the thyroid gland, depending on the particular procedure, is removed.
Thyroidectomy may be recommended for the following:
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) with enlargement of the gland
- Cancer of the thyroid
- Thyroid swelling (nontoxic goiter)
- Hashimoto's disease (a type of hypothyroidism)
The procedure may also be done if a patient with hyperthyroidism does not want to have radioactive iodine treatment and cannot be treated with anti-thyroid medications.
Risks for any anesthesia include the following:
- Reactions to medications
- Problems breathing
- Bleeding and possible airway obstruction
- Temporary or permanent loss of ability to speak due to paralysis of the vocal chords
- Inadequate thyroid function (hypothyroidism)
- Injury to the adjacent parathyroid glands
- Inadequate level of calcium in the blood (hypocalcemia)
When performed by experienced endocrine surgeons, the outcome of thyroid surgery is usually excellent. Thyroid function tests may need to continue following thyroid surgery, and thyroid hormone replacement maybe necessary.
In general, patients recover rapidly from uncomplicated thyroid surgery. Most patients are able to resume most normal activities within 1-2 weeks.
Reviewed By: J.A. Lee, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.