- Total or near-total thyroidectomy—all of the thyroid is removed
- Thyroid lobectomy or partial thyroidectomy—removal of only a part of the right or left lobe and/or center of the thyroid
|The Thyroid Gland|
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Reasons for Procedure
- Damage to the parathyroid gland, which controls calcium metabolism, which could lead to nerve and heart problems
- Voice changes due to damage to nerves leading to the voice box—rare
- Thyrotoxic crisis, which is a sudden excessive release of thyroid hormone at toxic levels—very rare
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Physical exam
- Laboratory and/or imaging tests to assess thyroid function and anatomy, such as:
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure, like:
- Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
- Blood thinners
- Antiplatelet medications
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before the procedure.
- Arrange for transportation to and from the hospital.
Description of Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
How Much Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- There will be discomfort in your neck for several days. The pain can be treated with medication.
- In some cases, you may have a hoarse voice for a few days.
- Depending on how much of the thyroid is removed, you may need to take replacement thyroid hormone.
- In some cases of thyroid cancer, you may need radioactive iodine treatments. This is called remnant ablation.
- Keep the incision clean and dry.
- Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- Do not get the incision wet until your doctor allows. If it does get wet, dry it right away.
- Do not apply make-up, lotion, or cream to the incision area.
- Perform neck exercises as instructed by your doctor.
- Take all medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
- Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor
- Numbness or tingling around the lips or extremities
- Twitching or muscle spasms
- Excessive and progressive fatigue
- Difficulty swallowing, talking, or breathing
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision site
- Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medications you were given after surgery, or which last for more than two days after discharge from the hospital
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) http://www.entnet.org
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology http://www.entcanada.org
Q & A: Thyroidectomy. American Thyroid Association website. Available at: http://www.thyroid.org/patient-thyroid-information/what-are-thyroid-problems/q-and-a-thyroidectomy/. Accessed August 7, 2013.
Thyroidectomy. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Patients/Programs-and-Services/Head-and-Neck-Cancer-Center/Treatment/Thyroidectomy-.aspx. Accessed August 7, 2013.
Thyroidectomy. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/thyroidectomy/hic%5Fthyroidectomy.aspx. Updated April 12, 2006. Accessed August 7, 2013.
- Reviewer: Kim Carmichael, MD; Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 05/11/2013 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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