A thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the neck and produces hormones that regulate metabolism. There are two main types of thyroidectomy: total thyroidectomy, which involves removal of the entire thyroid gland, and partial thyroidectomy, which involves removal of only part of the gland. The type of thyroidectomy recommended will depend on the individual's condition and the extent of the disease.
How it is performed
A thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing all or part of the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the neck. Here are the general steps involved in a thyroidectomy:
- Anesthesia: The patient is given general anesthesia, which means they will be unconscious during the surgery.
- Incision: The surgeon makes an incision in the front of the neck, usually in a natural skin crease to minimize scarring. The size of the incision will depend on the extent of the surgery.
- Exposure: The surgeon carefully separates the muscles and tissues in the neck to expose the thyroid gland. The surgeon takes care to identify and protect the surrounding nerves, blood vessels, and parathyroid glands, which are small glands near the thyroid gland that help regulate calcium levels in the body.
- Removal: The surgeon then removes all or part of the thyroid gland, depending on the reason for the surgery. The gland may be removed in one piece or in smaller sections.
- Closure: After the thyroid gland has been removed, the surgeon closes the incision with sutures or staples. A drain may be placed to remove excess fluid from the surgical site.
- Recovery: The patient is taken to a recovery area to wake up from the anesthesia. The patient may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two for monitoring. After being discharged, the patient will need to take medication to replace the thyroid hormone for the rest of their life if the entire gland was removed.
Why is the surgery done
Thyroidectomy surgery is done for a variety of reasons, including:
- Thyroid cancer: If a person is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, a thyroidectomy may be recommended to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, depending on the type and extent of the cancer.
- Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, leading to a range of symptoms. In some cases, a thyroidectomy may be recommended to remove all or part of the thyroid gland to treat the condition.
- Goiter: A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland that can cause swelling in the neck and difficulty swallowing or breathing. In some cases, a thyroidectomy may be recommended to remove all or part of the gland to relieve symptoms.
- Nodules: Thyroid nodules are growths that form on the thyroid gland. While most nodules are benign, some may be cancerous or cause symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or breathing. A thyroidectomy may be recommended to remove the nodules.
What to expect post surgery
some common things to expect are:
- Pain and discomfort at the incision site are common after a thyroidectomy surgery.
- Swelling at the incision site and in the neck area is also common.
- A small tube may be placed near the incision site to drain excess fluid. The drain will be removed before the patient is discharged from the hospital.
- A temporary change in the voice can occur due to the surgery.
- If the entire thyroid gland was removed, the patient will need to take thyroid hormone replacement therapy for the rest of their life to replace the thyroid hormone that their body no longer produces.
- The patient will be advised to limit activity and avoid heavy lifting for a few weeks after surgery.
- Follow-up appointments to ensure there are no complications
Risks associated with the surgery
Like any surgical procedure, a thyroidectomy surgery has potential risks and complications. These can include:
- Damage to surrounding structures
- Scar formation
- Hypothyroidism: If the entire thyroid gland is removed, the patient will develop hypothyroidism, which is a condition where the body doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone.