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Alternative Names Return to topTotal thyroidectomy; Partial thyroidectomy; Thyroidectomy; Subtotal thyroidectomy
Definition Return to top
Thyroid gland removal is surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that lies over your trachea (the tube that carries air to your lungs). It is just below your voice box.
The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system. It helps your body regulate your metabolism.
Description Return to top
You will probably receive general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) for this surgery. Or you may receive local anesthesia and medicine to relax you. You will be awake but pain-free.
Your surgeon may do the procedure through an incision (cut) in your neck.
Your surgeon may use an endoscope to remove your thyroid.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Your doctor may recommend thyroid removal if you have:
You may also have surgery if you have hyperthyroidism, do not want to have radioactive iodine treatment, and cannot be treated with anti-thyroid medicines.
Risks Return to top
Risks for any anesthesia are:
Risks for any surgery are:
Risks for thyroid removal are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
You may need to have tests that show exactly where your thyroid gland is. This will help your surgeon find your thyroid during surgery. Some of the tests you may have are a CT scan, ultrasound, or other special imaging tests.
You may also need thyroid medicine or iodine treatments 1 to 2 weeks before your surgery.
Before surgery, an anesthesiologist will review your medical history with you and decide what type of anesthesia to use. The anesthesiologist is the doctor who will give you the medicine that makes you asleep and pain-free during surgery and who monitors you during surgery.
Fill any prescriptions for pain medicine and calcium you will need after surgery.
Several days to a week before surgery, you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and other drugs like these.
You will probably be asked to stop eating or drinking at least 6 hours before surgery.
Ask your doctor which medicines you should still take the day of surgery.
If you smoke, try to stop. Your recovery time will be shorter if you do not smoke. Ask your doctor or nurse for help.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
After the Procedure Return to top
You will probably go home the day after surgery. But you may spend up to 3 days in the hospital. You must be able to swallow liquids before you go home.
Your doctor will probably check the calcium level in your blood after surgery. This is done more often when the whole thyroid gland is removed.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome of this surgery is usually excellent. Most people will need to take thyroid hormone pills (thyroid hormone replacement) for the rest of their lives.
References Return to top
Hanks JB, Salomone LJ. Thyroid. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap 36.Update Date: 1/30/2009 Updated by: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.