A thyroidectomy is an operation that involves the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. General, endocrine or head and neck surgeons often perform a thyroidectomy when a patient has thyroid cancer or some other condition of the thyroid gland (such as hyperthyroidism) or goiter. Other indications for surgery include cosmetic (very enlarged thyroid), or symptomatic obstruction (causing difficulties in swallowing or breathing). Thyroidectomy is a common surgical procedure that has several potential complications or sequelae including: temporary or permanent change in voice, temporary or permanently low calcium, need for lifelong thyroid hormone replacement, bleeding, infection, and the remote possibility of airway obstruction due to bilateral vocal cord paralysis. Complications are uncommon when the procedure is performed by an experienced surgeon.
The thyroid produces several hormones, such as thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and calcitonin.
After the removal of a thyroid, patients usually take a prescribed oral synthetic thyroid hormone—levothyroxine (Synthroid)—to prevent hypothyroidism.
Less extreme variants of thyroidectomy include:
A thyroidectomy should not be confused with a thyroidotomy (thyrotomy), which is a cutting into (‑otomy) the thyroid, not a removal ( ‑ectomy , literally “out-cutting”) of it. A thyroidotomy can be performed to get access for a median laryngotomy, or to perform a biopsy. (Although technically a biopsy involves removing some tissue, it is more frequently categorized as an ‑otomy than an ‑ectomy because the volume of tissue removed is minuscule.)
Traditionally, the thyroid has been removed through a neck incision that leaves a permanent scar. More recently, minimally invasive and "scarless" approaches such as transoral thyroidectomy have become popular in some parts of the world.
Al-Zahrawi, a tenth century Arab physician, sometimes referred to as the "Father of surgery",is credited with the performance of the first thyroidectomy.
A goitre, or goiter, is a swelling in the neck resulting from an enlarged thyroid gland. A goitre can be associated with a thyroid that is not functioning properly.
Hyperthyroidism is the condition that occurs due to excessive production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland. Thyrotoxicosis is the condition that occurs due to excessive thyroid hormone of any cause and therefore includes hyperthyroidism. Some, however, use the terms interchangeably. Signs and symptoms vary between people and may include irritability, muscle weakness, sleeping problems, a fast heartbeat, heat intolerance, diarrhea, enlargement of the thyroid, hand tremor, and weight loss. Symptoms are typically less severe in the elderly and during pregnancy. An uncommon complication is thyroid storm in which an event such as an infection results in worsening symptoms such as confusion and a high temperature and often results in death. The opposite is hypothyroidism, when the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.
Otorhinolaryngology is a surgical subspecialty within medicine that deals with the surgical and medical management of conditions in the head and neck. Doctors who specialize in this area are called otolaryngologists, head and neck surgeons, or ENT surgeons. Patients seek treatment from an otorhinolaryngologist for diseases of the ear, nose, throat, base of the skull, head, and neck which encompasses the surgical management and reconstruction of cancers and benign tumors of the head and neck as well as plastic surgery of the face and neck.
The thyroid, or thyroid gland, is an endocrine gland in the neck consisting of two connected lobes. The lower two thirds of the lobes are connected by a thin band of tissue called the thyroid isthmus. The thyroid is located at the front of the neck, below the Adam's apple. Microscopically, the functional unit of the thyroid gland is the spherical thyroid follicle, lined with follicular cells (thyrocytes), and occasional parafollicular cells that surround a lumen containing colloid. The thyroid gland secretes three hormones: the two thyroid hormones – triiodothyronine ( T3), and thyroxine (T4), and a peptide hormone, calcitonin. The thyroid hormones influence the metabolic rate and protein synthesis, and in children, growth and development. Calcitonin plays a role in calcium homeostasis. Secretion of the two thyroid hormones is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is secreted from the anterior pituitary gland. TSH is regulated by thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which is produced by the hypothalamus.
Graves' disease, also known as toxic diffuse goiter, is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. It frequently results in and is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. It also often results in an enlarged thyroid. Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may include irritability, muscle weakness, sleeping problems, a fast heartbeat, poor tolerance of heat, diarrhea and unintentional weight loss. Other symptoms may include thickening of the skin on the shins, known as pretibial myxedema, and eye bulging, a condition caused by Graves' ophthalmopathy. About 25 to 80% of people with the condition develop eye problems.
Thyroid neoplasm is a neoplasm or tumor of the thyroid. It can be a benign tumor such as thyroid adenoma, or it can be a malignant neoplasm, such as papillary, follicular, medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancer. Most patients are 25 to 65 years of age when first diagnosed; women are more affected than men. The estimated number of new cases of thyroid cancer in the United States in 2010 is 44,670 compared to only 1,690 deaths. Of all thyroid nodules discovered, only about 5 percent are cancerous, and under 3 percent of those result in fatalities.
A thyroglossal cyst is a fibrous cyst that forms from a persistent thyroglossal duct. Thyroglossal cysts can be defined as an irregular neck mass or a lump which develops from cells and tissues left over after the formation of the thyroid gland during developmental stages.
Endocrine surgery is a surgical sub-speciality focusing on surgery of the endocrine glands, including the thyroid gland, the parathyroid glands, the adrenal glands, glands of the endocrine pancreas, and some neuroendocrine glands.
Thyroid disease is a medical condition that affects the function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located at the front of the neck and produces thyroid hormones that travel through the blood to help regulate many other organs, meaning that it is an endocrine organ. These hormones normally act in the body to regulate energy use, infant development, and childhood development.
Hürthle cell adenoma is a rare benign tumor, typically seen in women between the ages of 70 and 80 years old. This adenoma is characterized by a mass of benign Hürthle cells. Typically such a mass is removed because it is not easy to predict whether it will transform into the malignant counterpart, a subtype of follicular thyroid cancer called a Hürthle cell carcinoma.
The superior laryngeal nerve is a branch of the vagus nerve. It arises from the middle of the inferior ganglion of vagus nerve and in its course receives a branch from the superior cervical ganglion of the sympathetic nervous system.
Papillary thyroid cancer or papillary thyroid carcinoma is the most common type of thyroid cancer, representing 75 percent to 85 percent of all thyroid cancer cases. It occurs more frequently in women and presents in the 20–55 year age group. It is also the predominant cancer type in children with thyroid cancer, and in patients with thyroid cancer who have had previous radiation to the head and neck. It is often well-differentiated, slow-growing, and localized, although it can metastasize.
A persistent thyroglossal duct is a usually benign medical condition in which the thyroglossal duct, a structure usually only found during embryonic development, fails to atrophy. The duct persists as a midline structure forming an open connection between the back of the tongue and the thyroid gland. This opening can lead to fluid accumulation and infection, which necessitate the removal of the duct.
Thyroid nodules are nodules which commonly arise within an otherwise normal thyroid gland. They may be hyperplastic or tumorous, but only a small percentage of thyroid tumors are malignant. Small, asymptomatic nodules are common, and often go unnoticed. Nodules that grow larger or produce symptoms may eventually need medical care. A goitre may have one nodule – uninodular, multiple nodules – multinodular, or be diffuse.
Follicular thyroid cancer accounts for 15% of thyroid cancer and occurs more commonly in women over 50 years of age. Thyroglobulin (Tg) can be used as a tumor marker for well-differentiated follicular thyroid cancer. Follicular cells are the thyroid cells responsible for the production and secretion of thyroid hormones.
Many conditions are associated with disorders of the function of the parathyroid gland. Parathyroid diseases can be divided into those causing hyperparathyroidism, and those causing hypoparathyroidism.
Colloid nodules, also known as adenomatous nodules or colloid nodular goiter are benign, noncancerous enlargement of thyroid tissue. Although they may grow large, and there may be more than one, they are not malignant and they will not spread beyond the thyroid gland. Colloid nodules are the most common kind of thyroid nodule.
In CT scan of the thyroid, focal and diffuse thyroid abnormalities are commonly encountered. These findings can often lead to a diagnostic dilemma, as the CT reflects the nonspecific appearances. Ultrasound (US) examination has a superior spatial resolution and is considered the modality of choice for thyroid evaluation. Nevertheless, CT detects incidental thyroid nodules (ITNs) and plays an important role in the evaluation of thyroid cancer.