It can be both a stressful and terrifying experience when dealing with thyroid problems. Thyroid disease is a common cause of hormonal imbalance in the body and occurs when the thyroid gland overproduces (hyperthyroidism) or underproduces (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormones. 1 There are several other thyroid conditions, some benign and others more malignant, to which people are susceptible to such as thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, goiter, and thyroid cancer.
The most extreme cases, such as thyroid cancer and goiter, may require a more invasive treatment than medicinal thyroid treatment, which can mean partial or complete thyroid removal.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped hormonal gland located at the front base of your neck. It plays a major role in regulating your metabolism and the growth and maturation of the human body. Additionally, it assists in regulating various body functions by regularly releasing a stream of hormones to the bloodstream. 2
Primary Reasons for Thyroid Surgery
Thyroid nodules are an abnormal growth of thyroid cells which form a lump on the thyroid gland and are an extremely common thyroid disease. According to the American Thyroid Association, an estimated one-half of people over the age of 60 have a thyroid nodule. Though over 90 percent of thyroid nodules are benign, a small portion can be cancerous—with men being at higher risk of having cancerous nodules. 3
The presence of malignant nodules or tumors is the most common reason for thyroid surgery. However, even benign nodules can potentially be an issue if they grow too large and obstruct the throat or potentially stimulate the thyroid gland so that there is an overproduction of hormones, also known as hyperthyroidism. 4 Goiter, a thyroid condition in which the thyroid gland is abnormally large or swollen, may also interfere with throat function and is another reason for thyroid surgery.
Types of Surgery
There are two main types of thyroid surgery you can have depending on your thyroid condition. Featured below are the descriptions and benefits for each according to the American Cancer Society.
This operation is the least invasive of the two types, mainly because it entails removing only the infected portion of the thyroid gland. It can be used to treat differentiated thyroid cancers which show no signs of spreading beyond the thyroid gland and are smaller. One advantage to this surgery is that you may not need to take thyroid medication since part of the thyroid gland is left behind.
This operation is the most common surgery to treat thyroid cancer. A total thyroidectomy involves removing the entire thyroid; however, the surgeon may not be able to remove the entire thyroid gland. One advantage to this surgery is that your doctor may monitor you for thyroid cancer recurrence without interference, unlike a lobectomy in which the leftover thyroid can interfere with tests.
Removal Risks and Side Effects
As with any surgery, there are potential complications to a thyroidectomy, including bleeding, infection, airway obstruction caused by bleeding, permanent hoarse or weak voice due to nerve damage, and damage to the parathyroid glands (which are located behind your thyroid). 5
If you have been experiencing thyroid problems and/or are looking for thyroid treatment, The Surgery Group of LA is a team of experts who are up-to-date on the latest surgical procedures and techniques and will provide you with comprehensive personalized care. Call now for a consultation and talk to a professional to see what the best option is for you.