A thyroidectomy is a procedure that removes all or part of the thyroid gland, which is an organ that regulates metabolism by releasing hormones. When diseases affect the thyroid gland, it can change the way it works, which can have a significant impact on your health.
A thyroidectomy can be used to cure a number of thyroid-related diseases such as an overactive thyroid gland, thyroid cancer, or large goiters on the gland which can cause breathing and swallowing difficulties.
What is a thyroidectomy?
A thyroidectomy is a surgery that removes all of the thyroid glands whereas a lobectomy is a surgery that only removes part of the gland.
What does a thyroidectomy involve?
This is an operation that has to be done under a general anaesthetic. Once you are asleep, the thyroid surgeon will make a small cut across your neck, which will give access to the thyroid gland. While your thyroid gland (or part of it) is removed, everything is done to avoid damage to your parathyroid glands and the nerves that help to move your voice box muscles. Your parathyroid glands are found behind your thyroid gland and they help to control the amount of calcium in your body. They will then remove all or part of the gland, and this will usually take one to two hours.
What happens after a thyroidectomy?
After the procedure, you will be looked after by a nurse until you are well enough to drink. You will slowly be able to eat again, although it may be initially painful to do so. You will usually be prescribed pain control medication to help with this.
The day after your operation, your thyroid surgeon will see you to monitor your progress and ensure you are recovering well. A few people need a drain after a thyroidectomy to drain off reactionary fluid from where the thyroid gland was. The drain is usually removed a day or two after surgery. If you have the whole thyroid gland removed, you will usually need to have some blood tests to check your calcium levels.
You will also need to immediately start hormone replacement therapy (or thyroid medication), which will allow your body to function properly if the whole thyroid gland has been removed. This is usually required for the rest of your life.
This is a once-a-day pill that should be taken every morning. If you’ve had a lobectomy, you may not need to take tablets although a few patients do. Your thyroid surgeon will help to ensure you are on the correct dose of thyroxine.
You should be able to go home one to two days after your operation.
Want to learn more about thyroidectomies?
If you want to learn more about thyroidectomies, speak to Mr. Wale Olarinde, a trusted ear, nose, throat, head, and neck surgeon to discuss your options.