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Thyroid Surgery

Overview

Thyroid surgery is a procedure to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland in the frontal area of the neck. Your thyroid is one of your endocrine glands that controls physiological body functions such as the regulation of hormones. Although thyroid surgery is often performed when thyroid cancer is suspected, it may also be helpful if you experience benign (non-cancerous) lumps associated with your thyroid, called “nodules”, or fluid-filled cysts that do not respond well to drainage treatment. Sometimes these abnormalities can lead to difficulties swallowing food, and even breathing problems. Thyroid surgery may be also be helpful if you experience a hyperactive thyroid gland (overactive), a hypoactive thyroid gland (underactive), or a gland that has simply enlarged and has become too big, called a thyroid “groiter”.

Thyroid Risk Factors

 

Thyroid conditions left untreated can become life threatening and cause to health complications including:

 

• High cholesterol levels

• Osteoporosis

• Infertility

• Coma

 

Thyroid problems are not uncommon, and affect more than 25 million Americans or an estimated 4% of the population. Women are more likely than men to experience thyroid problems, especially in the case of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Genetic predispositions and diabetes increase your chance for thyroid problems. In fact, between 15 to 20% of diabetes suffers and their family members will experience some type of thyroid problem. Aging also increases you chance for thyroid problems, especially hypothyroidism. By the age of 60, about 9% of women and 17% of men will have some type of underactive thyroid concern. Any type thyroid condition may be contributing to other problems you are experiencing, so it is important to schedule an appointment if you do have major risk factors.

 

Hyperthyroidism​

 

Hyperthyroidism is a condition where your thyroid is overactive. An overactive thyroid can eventually to lead medical and psychological disorders so treatment is always recommended. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

 

• Weight loss

• Heat intolerance

• Frequent urination 

• Vision changes

• Menstrual irregularities 

• Fertility challenges

• Sleep difficulties

• Tremors

• Heart palpitations

Hypothyroidism​

Conversely, an underactive thyroid can produce symptoms almost completely reversed from hyperthyroidism. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

 

• Weight gain

• Fatigue

• Depression

• Mood swings 

• Forgetfulness 

• Scratchy voice

• Brittle hair and skin

• Heavy menstrual cycles

Procedure​

Your medical and family history are important factors to discuss with you doctor so that a proper diagnosis can be made. Your doctor determines the best treatment for your thyroid problems and in some cases, surgery is recommended.

Thyroid surgery is performed at a hospital under general anesthesia. An incision is made so overlying muscle and tissue can be pulled to the side, revealing the thyroid gland. Your surgeon will remove unnecessary or harmful parts of the thyroid, or the entire gland, depending on what is necessary. The entire procedure will take about two hours and require up to a week of rest and recovery. Extraordinary mental and physical health improvements can be achieved after surgery when your thyroid is functioning properly. When your thyroid is working properly, so is the rest of your body and mind.