The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in your lower neck. The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate the body system. Thyroidectomy is the surgery that involves the removal of total or a part of the thyroid gland.
Symptoms of thyroid that may need a thyroidectomy (thyroid removal)
a. Nodule or Cyst – A small growth on the thyroid gland is called nodule or a cyst that may require thyroidectomy.
b. Thyroid cancer symptoms due to cancer growth on thyroid gland
c. Thyrotoxicosis – Hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid may cause a need for thyroidectomy.
d. Benign tumors – Non-cancerous tumors that cause symptoms require thyroidectomy.
e. Goiter – Increase in the size of the thyroid gland
Thyroid removal is of two types:
If the surgery involves the removal of the whole thyroid gland, then this surgery is called as total thyroidectomy. It is used to relieve symptoms of thyroid cancer.
This procedure involves the removal of part of the thyroid gland and is used to treat symptoms of thyroid.
Types of surgical procedures
In this surgical procedure, the incision is made on the neck that provides direct access to the thyroid gland.
Endoscopic thyroidectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves small incisions through which a video camera is inserted. The video camera guides the surgeon during the surgery.
This surgery is performed by making the incisions on the chest or armpit.
You should discuss past medical and medication history with your physician. Diagnostic tests like ultrasound and computed tomography (CT) scan will be performed. Your surgeon performs fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) to confirm whether the growth is cancerous or non-cancerous. You may require thyroid hormone and iodine therapy before the surgery to maintain the thyroid function.
Your doctor instructs you not to eat or drink anything for 8-12 hours before the surgery.
This surgical procedure is performed depending upon the cause for the surgery. Firstly, general anesthesia is administered that makes you unconscious during the surgery.
Your surgeon will assess your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen by connecting different monitors to your body. An antiseptic liquid will be used to clean the neck before making an incision to prevent the infection. Your surgeon makes a 3-4 inch incision on your neck. A two-inch incision is also made depending upon the surgery. After the incision, the surgeon will have direct access to the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is then removed. The total or partial thyroid gland is then removed depending upon the underlying cause. After removing the thyroid gland, the surgeon sutures the incision.
Bleeding – Bleeding during the surgery is a common complication.
Infection – Infection may occur during the surgery or after surgery.
Changes in the voice – Damage to the nerves of vocal cords and larynx during the surgery may cause hoarseness and weakness of voice along with difficulty in swallowing.
Airway obstruction – It is a rare complication that is seen after the surgery.
Hypocalcemia – Injury to the parathyroid hormones during the surgery decreases calcium levels.
Thyroid storm – Hyperthyroidism may occur which can be treated with hormones.
After the surgery, you will be monitored for 24 hours
You may have drainage from your neck which will be reduced gradually
You should eat soft food to prevent excess pressure on the neck
You should take thyroid hormone daily for your whole life
Hoarseness or weakness in the voice is present which can be resolved
Pain medications can be taken to reduce the pain after surgery
After discharge, you should take sufficient rest. Keep your head raised while sleeping to avoid stress on the neck.
Keep the wound dry to prevent infections
Avoid strenuous activities that impose stress on the neck
Consult your physician if you experience pain, soreness, redness, swelling, and fever.