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Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. This gland is in the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism. The surgery may be a:
All or part of the thyroid gland may be surgically removed for any of the following reasons:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a thyroidectomy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
anesthesia will be used.
You will be asleep.
An incision will be made in the front of the neck. Bleeding vessels will be clamped and tied off. All or part of the thyroid gland will be cut away from other tissues in the neck. Care will be taken to avoid injury to other nearby glands and nerves. Bleeding is controlled with special tools that compress and seal the ends of the vessels. The incision will be closed. The edges of skin will be stitched together. A drain will often be left in overnight. It will help drain any extra fluids.
The thyroid may be removed to treat thyroid cancer. In this case, lymph nodes in the area may also be removed. This will test if the cancer has spread.
In some cases, the doctor may be able to remove the thyroid using endoscopic surgery. This involves making small incisions, instead of a large incision in the neck.
About 2-4 hours
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. Pain after the procedure is common. You will be given medicine to help manage this.
The usual length of stay is one day. Your doctor may choose to keep you longer if complications arise.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS)
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website. Available at:
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.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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