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Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. Used to remove thyroid glands that are causing symptoms due to enlargement or overactivity, or if there is a diagnosis or concern about thyroid cancer.

What is a thyroidectomy?

Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland.

Why should I have a thyroidectomy?

A thyroid gland is removed if it is enlarged resulting in compressive symptoms, has an abnormal nodule or cancer, or is producing too much thyroid hormone which is not able to be controlled with medication or radioactive iodine.

How is the surgery performed?

You will have a General Anaesthetic.  A special breathing tube is placed to allow the nerves close to your thyroid gland to be monitored whilst you are asleep. An incision is made in the lower aspect of your neck. The midline muscles are parted, exposing the thyroid gland.  The thyroid is dissected free, taking care to identify and preserve nearby nerves and the parathyroid glands. The skin is closed with dissolvable sutures. Steri-Strips are placed along the wound.

What are the risks of thyroidectomy?

Bleeding which may require a return to theatre.  Infection. Injury to the recurrent laryngeal or external branch of superior laryngeal nerves.  Low calcium levels in the blood which may be temporary or permanent and require medication to replace.  

Before the operation

You will have blood tests prior to your admission to check your thyroid function.  You will be admitted the day of your operation.  You are unable to eat or drink for at least six hours prior to surgery.

After the operation

You will spend the night in the high-dependency unit (HDU) where you can be closely monitored. You will be able to have oral fluids on the day of your operation and start solid food as tolerated. You will have a blood test to check your calcium and parathyroid hormone level at 6 hours post-op and the morning after surgery if you have had a total thyroidectomy, this is not required if you have had a hemithyroidectomy. If you have had a total thyroidectomy you will be prescribed thyroxine, you will need to continue on this for the rest of your life. You will be able to go home on the day after surgery. You will need someone to drive you home. You will be followed up in the rooms at 3 weeks postoperatively to review your results.