Thyroidectomy

Definition

Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. This gland is in the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism. The surgery may be a:
  • Total or near-total thyroidectomy—all of the thyroid is removed
  • Thyroid lobectomy or partial thyroidectomy—removal of only a part of the right or left lobe and/or center of the thyroid
The Thyroid Gland
The Thyroid
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Reasons for Procedure

All or part of the thyroid gland may be surgically removed for any of the following reasons:
  • Overactive thyroid, known as hyperthyroidism , due to Graves disease or an over-functioning nodule
  • Enlarged thyroid, known as a goiter, causing significant symptoms because of its size
  • Thyroid nodule(s) that are suspicious or cause concern for thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid cancer

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
  • Damage to the parathyroid gland, which controls calcium metabolism, which could lead to nerve and heart problems
  • Scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Low blood calcium—usually temporary
  • Voice changes due to damage to nerves leading to the voice box—rare
  • Thyrotoxic crisis, which is a sudden excessive release of thyroid hormone at toxic levels—very rare
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
  • Severe hyperthyroidism
  • Large goiter
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • Poor nutrition
  • Long-term illness such as diabetes

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