Your thyroid gland is located at the bottom of your neck, beneath your Adam’s apple, and secretes thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone controls the speed of your metabolism. Patients with under active thyroids are hypothyroid, and have a slow metabolism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include dry skin, feeing cold, weight gain and fatigue. Patients with overactive thyroids are hyperthyroid and have a fast metabolism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, anxiety, heart palpitations, and heat intolerance. Many people have nodules in their thyroid gland, and most thyroid gland nodules are not cancerous. If a nodule is large or has suspicious characteristics, a needle biopsy can be performed to make sure that no cancer cells are present.

Thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all or a portion of the thyroid gland. It is typically performed to remove cancer within the thyroid gland, remove nodules within the gland that are suspicious for cancer, or to remove large goiters which are causing symptoms or cosmetic deformity.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. An incision will be made in the front of your neck, just over the thyroid gland itself. Often, this incision will be made in a natural skin crease and usually becomes barely noticeable with time. The length of the incision is based on the size of the gland, the reason that the gland is being removed, and the shape and size of your neck. A nerve monitor is used throughout the case to protect the nerve to your voice box. The thyroid gland or a portion of the thyroid gland is then removed, with careful attention to preserve the parathyroid glands, which maintain calcium metabolism, and the nerves to the voice box. The incision is then closed, and a drain is placed to prevent a blood clot from forming under the incision.

After thyroidectomy, patients typically spend the night in the hospital. The following morning, we will remove the drain, and you will be discharged home. You will need to return to the office the following week to have sutures removed.

Your surgeon will give you a prescription for pain medication, and if you had a total thyroidectomy, a pill for thyroid hormone replacement. Patients often have mild sore throat with swallowing for several days, and can also experience mild hoarseness which typically resolves on it’s own. Severe pain, numbness in the lips or fingers, fevers, or swelling in the neck may be signs of a problem, and your surgeon should be alerted immediately.