Thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove all (total thyroidectomy), half of the thyroid gland (hemithyroidectomy) or the middle “bridge” of the thyroid gland (thyroid isthmusectomy). The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, and it plays a crucial role in producing hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, and development.
Thyroidectomy may be recommended for various conditions, including thyroid cancer, benign thyroid nodules, or hyperthyroidism.
Before the surgery, you will undergo a thorough evaluation, including blood tests to measure thyroid hormone levels, ultrasound, or other imaging studies to assess the size and location of the thyroid gland, and usually a fine-needle aspiration biopsy to examine any suspicious nodules for cancer cells. These tests help guide surgical planning and determine the extent of the thyroidectomy.
Dr Moar performs thyroidectomy as an open procedure. This involves making a horizontal incision in the lower front of the neck to access and remove the left, right or the whole thyroid gland. It provides direct visualisation of the gland and important nearby structures and is suitable for various conditions.
After the surgery, you will be observed in the hospital for a day or two. Pain medication may be prescribed to manage any discomfort. You may be advised to limit physical activity for a few days and to avoid activities that strain the neck area. Thyroid hormone replacement medication may be necessary to maintain normal hormone levels, especially in cases of total thyroidectomy.
Thyroidectomy risks include bleeding, infection, damage to surrounding structures (such as the parathyroid glands or nerves), and temporary or permanent changes in hormone levels. The specific risks and benefits should be discussed with Dr Moar, who can provide personalised guidance based on your condition.
Alternative treatments depend on the type of condition you have that requires medical intervention. Hyperthyroidism could be managed with medication or radioactive iodine therapy. In many cases, small thyroid nodules detected through scans that do not produce symptoms can be monitored over time for growth, and may not require any medical or surgical intervention.
In some cases, chemical or thermal ablation can be used to shrink thyroid cysts or nodules.