This procedure involves removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces hormones that help regulate your metabolism. This gland is located in the front of the neck below the voice box.
Purpose of Procedure
There are several reasons why this procedure is done: to remove a nodule that is suspicious for cancer, to remove the majority of the gland due to over activity (hyperthyroidism), or to remove a large gland that is causing symptoms of obstruction (trouble breathing or swallowing).
This procedure involves making an incision in the front of the neck. The incision is made along the natural skin lines to reduce the appearance of a scar. The incision is extended down through soft tissue in the neck to expose muscles that lie over the thyroid gland. These muscles are then retracted. Blood vessels to the thyroid gland are identified and cut. Other glands found on each side of the thyroid gland, called the parathyroid glands, are identified and protected. Nerves that travel under the thyroid gland and move the vocal cords are also identified and protected. The abnormal portions of the thyroid gland are then removed. Bleeding is controlled with suture material or electrocautery. In some instances, this surgery is performed for cancer, and the surrounding lymph nodes in that area may be checked for any spread of the cancer. The wound is closed in layers using absorbable and occasionally removable suture material. Skin glue is often used to repair the skin incision.
You will be in the recovery room before being transferred to a regular hospital room if you are staying overnight. If only one side of the thyroid gland is removed you may be able to leave the hospital on the day of surgery. For total thyroidectomy, a special blood test is often used to help determine your risk of low calcium. Pain medication will be prescribed to manage discomfort. It is common to have a sore throat and neck pain after surgery. Your voice may feel strained or weak for several days after surgery as well. Pain medication may be needed for up to 2 weeks. Post-operative pain medications may include a narcotic type medication that may cause drowsiness. Operation of motor vehicles or machinery is not allowed while using this medication. Returning to work or school can occur as soon as pain medication is no longer needed during the day. You may also receive a prescription for calcium after surgery. This is tapered over several weeks after surgery. Signs of low blood calcium include numbness and tingling around the mouth or in your fingers or toes. Sometimes you may even experience muscle twitches or spasms. If these symptoms occur, and last for more that 15-20 minutes or are severe, you should call our office during regular business hours or report to the emergency department after hours or on weekends. Often blood test for calcium will be performed and your medication dose may need to be adjusted. If you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer you may need post operative radioactive iodine treatment.