Thyroidectomy – Thyroid Surgeon Pinellas County, FL
What Is a Thyroidectomy?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck that secretes hormones that are important to many processes in the body. Unfortunately, all or part of the thyroid gland can become diseased. A thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of that diseased thyroid tissue.
Though often recommended as a treatment for thyroid cancer, thyroidectomy can also be used to treat thyroid conditions like enlarged thyroid gland (noncancerous goiter) and Graves' disease.
There are several types of thyroidectomies, based on how much of the thyroid gland is removed:
- Total thyroidectomy: Removal of the entire thyroid gland
- Partial thyroidectomy: Removal of part of the thyroid gland
- Subtotal thyroidectomy: Removal of an entire lobe, the isthmus, and part of the other lobe
A thyroidectomy is a major surgery, but it can be an effective cure for several thyroid diseases.
To schedule a consultation with a thyroid surgeon in Pinellas County who specializes in thyroidectomy, call (813) 536-3212 or contact Evolution online.
Why Is a Thyroidectomy Performed?
Thyroidectomy surgery is done in the event that other thyroid disease therapies are either not possible or have not been effective.
The thyroid gland is important to many biological processes, so while there will be several significant side effects from the surgery, it can be an effective cure for several serious illnesses, including:
- Thyroid cancer
- Benign tumors large enough to interfere with breathing or swallowing
- Persistent thyroid nodules
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
How is a Thyroidectomy Performed?
Before your thyroidectomy, steps will be taken to help you prepare. Your surgeon will give you an overview of the operation, as well as a set of instructions. Ways that you may need to prepare for your thyroidectomy include:
- Ceasing medications or supplements like blood thinners, immunosuppressants, or dietary supplements that could create complications during the surgery
- Filling prescriptions for medications like painkillers and calcium supplements for post-op recovery
- Quitting or temporarily ceasing smoking, which can interfere with healing
The thyroidectomy procedure you undergo will depend on how much of the thyroid gland needs to be removed, but the procedure is always done under general anesthesia. There are several ways to perform the operation:
- Open thyroidectomy: A horizontal incision 5-6 inches long is made in the neck to allow the surgeon to reach in and remove the thyroid.
- Endoscopic thyroidectomy: A small incision 2-3 cm long is made in the neck, allowing the surgeon to see the thyroid with a camera while they perform the surgery with special instruments.
- Robotic thyroidectomy: A surgeon uses robotic scalpels to perform the surgery through an incision in the axilla (armpit) or chest.
- "Scarless" thyroidectomy: The surgeon accesses the thyroid through the patient's mouth, called a transoral approach.
Depending on how much of the thyroid needs to be removed, the surgery can last from between 45 minutes to 3 hours.
If you are undergoing a total or subtotal thyroidectomy, one or more of your parathyroid glands - which control calcium levels in the body - may have to be implanted into a nearby muscle of the neck to avoid damage.
What Should I Expect After a Thyroidectomy?
After a thyroidectomy is completed, you will need to spend up to 3 days in the hospital, and will not be released until you can swallow liquids. While you should be able to walk the day after your thyroidectomy, recovery ordinarily takes 3 to 4 weeks.
You may need your calcium levels checked or take calcium supplements after the surgery, especially if your entire thyroid was removed. You may also have some pain from the surgery; ask your surgeon for instructions on how to take pain medicines after you are released from the hospital.
As with any surgery, there are risks to thyroidectomy. The surgery is always done under general anesthesia, which can carry risks such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches
- Allergic reaction (rare)
Thyroidectomy can result in hypothyroidism - too-low levels of thyroid hormones - especially if your entire thyroid gland was removed. Hypothyroidism symptoms after thyroidectomy can include:
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair
- Impaired memory
- Pain, stiffness, or swelling in joints
Talk to your endocrinologist if you experience these symptoms after your thyroidectomy. If hypothyroidism occurs, you may need thyroid hormone supplements.
Other potential thyroidectomy risks include:
- Hoarseness or change of voice, which can occur if the nerves that control your voice are damaged
- Hypoparathyroidism, which can occur if your parathyroid glands are damaged
- Thyroid storm, or too much thyroid hormone
- Bleeding or blood clots
- Breathing problems
Notify a doctor if you experience the following thyroidectomy side effects:
- Numbness or tingling around lips, hands, or feet
- Formication (skin crawling)
- Muscle cramps or spasms
- Bad headaches
- Anxiety or depression
If you have serious thyroid disease, a thyroidectomy may be a permanent cure for your illness.
To make an appointment with a thyroid surgeon in Pinellas County who specializes in thyroidectomies, call (813) 536-3212 or contact Evolution online.
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