- Total or near-total thyroidectomy—all of the thyroid is removed
- Thyroid lobectomy or partial thyroidectomy—removal of only a part of the thyroid (the right or left lobe and/or center)
|The Thyroid Gland|
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Reasons for Procedure
- Damage to the parathyroid gland, which controls calcium metabolism (could lead to nerve and heart problems)
- Voice changes due to damage to nerves leading to the voice box (rare)
- Thyrotoxic crisis (sudden excessive release of thyroid hormone at toxic levels) (very rare)
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Physical exam
- Laboratory and/or imaging tests to assess thyroid function and anatomy, such as:
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Blood thinners, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) or warfarin (Coumadin)
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the evening prior to the procedure.
- Arrange for transportation to and from the hospital.
Description of Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- There will be discomfort in your neck for several days. The pain can be treated with medicine.
- In some cases, you may have a hoarse voice for a few days.
- Depending on how much of the thyroid is removed, you may need to take replacement thyroid hormone.
- In some cases of thyroid cancer, you may need radioactive iodine treatments. This is called remnant ablation.
- Keep the incision clean and dry.
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- Do not get the incision wet until your doctor allows. If it does get wet, dry it immediately.
- Do not apply make-up, lotion, or cream to the incision area.
- Perform neck exercises as instructed by your doctor.
- Take all medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor
- Numbness or tingling around the lips or extremities
- Twitching or muscle spasms (indicates dangerously low levels of calcium in the blood)
- Excessive and progressive fatigue
- Difficulty swallowing, talking, or breathing
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery, or which persist for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
- Pain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) http://www.entnet.org/
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov/
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology http://www.entcanada.org/
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website. Available at: http://www.aace.com/ .
Meeker MH, Rocthrock JC. Alexander's Care of the Patient During Surgery . 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby; 1999.
Sabiston DC Jr. Textbook of Surgery . 17th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Co.; 2004.
- Reviewer: Kim Carmichael, MD
- Review Date: 11/2012 -
- Update Date: 11/26/2012 -