Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid surgery is used to treat people with thyroid problems such as thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules and hyperthyroidism. The thyroid gland is the butterfly-shaped gland that can be seen on the neck. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones responsible for metabolism in the body. Once a person is diagnosed of thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules or hyperthyroidism, common treatment would be thyroid surgery especially if the disease is already severe. During the surgery, an incision is made in the skin. To expose the gland, the muscles and tissues are pulled aside. Below are other reasons why an individual undergo thyroid surgery:

  • A fluid filled nodule reoccurs after being drained once or twice.
  • Hyperthyroidism cannot be treated with radioactive iodine and other medicines.
  • A thyroid cancer is suspected or benign(noncancerous).
  • A noncancerous or benign nodule is large enough to cause problems with swallowing or breathing.

There are types of thyroid surgery that is used to treat thyroid problems. One is total thyroidectomy which is a surgical process that removes the entire thyroid gland and the lymph nodes surrounding the thyroid gland. There is also thyroid lobectomy with or without isthmectomy. Lobectomy means removing only one lobe. In instances that the thyroid nodules are only found in one lobe, surgeons will only remove one lobe thus a patient will undergo lobectomy with isthmectomy. However in instances that thyroid nodules are found in two lobes, lobectomy with isthmectomy is done. Lobectomy with isthmectomy is the process where in the narrow band of tissues that connect the two lobes are removed. There is also a thyroid surgery that is called subtotal thyroidectomy. This is a surgical process that removes one complete lobe; the isthmus and the part of the other lobe. Lastly, there’s endoscopic thyroidectomy. This surgical process involves removal of the small cysts or single small nodules that are benign or non cancerous or removal of the entire thyroid gland.

After Thyroid Surgery

After the thyroid surgery, many people leave the hospital after a few days. The days spent being the hospital, the treatments and recovery all depends on an individual’s age, general health, extent of the surgery and if whether cancer is present. Most doctors also recommend bed rest on the first day after the thyroid surgery. Doctors will also suggest to start moving thereafter. If patient is still hospitalized, intravenous nutrition is preferred as swallowing and eating may be difficult. If at home, liquid or soft diets are highly recommended until swallowing and chewing becomes comfortable.

Interesting Questions about Thyroid:

What is Graves’ Eye Disease?

The eye changes associated with Graves’ disease can be called either Graves’ ophthalmopathy, Graves’ orbitopathy, or Graves’ eye disease. Approximately 50% of the patients with Graves’ disease develop some eye disease, but the eye changes may be so subtle that patients are unaware of them. For most patients with Graves’ disease, eye involvement is minimal. Severe orbitopathy occurs in less than 5% of patients with Graves’ disease.

Graves’ eye disease is not caused by thyroid dysfunction. Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the eyes and the thyroid gland independently of each other. Thus, the hyperthyroidism may improve with therapy, while the eye disease stays the same or gets worse. Even though the thyroid disease and the eye disease run independent courses, it is important to treat the hyperthyroidism associated with Graves’ disease.

An ophthalmologist is usually involved in the treatment of Graves’ eye disease. Most thyroidologists and endocrinologists should be able to recommend an ophthalmologist experienced in the treatment of Graves’ eye disease. In addition, The Thyroid Society maintains a list of such ophthalmologists throughout the country.

Symptoms of Graves’ eye disease may include a feeling of irritation or sand in the eyes, double vision (diplopia), and excessive tearing. Inflammation and swelling behind the eye may cause actual protrusion of the eyeball from the orbit. When this protrusion occurs, it is called exophthalmos or proptosis.

When the eye changes are severe, there may be marked swelling of the eye, inability to move an eye, corneal ulceration, and in extreme cases, loss of vision. Fortunately, these severe changes occur infrequently, but when they do occur, consultation with an ophthalmologist is essential. Graves’ eye disease usually affects both eyes, although each eye may be affected to a different degree. In some cases, only one eye is affected.

The course of Graves’ eye disease is unpredictable. The initial, or active, phase of Graves’ eye disease may last for eighteen to twenty-four months. During this time period, the eye signs and symptoms may change considerably. For this reason, physicians are reluctant to use certain treatments, such as surgery, during this phase, fearing that ongoing inflammation will cause the eyes to change again after surgery. Thus, most physicians advise patients to defer treatments such as surgery until the eye disease goes into an inactive phase. Of course, if a patient’s symptoms are severe or if loss of vision is threatened, then all available treatments will be used at any time, even during the active phase.

Most patients will receive only symptomatic treatment during the active phase of Graves’ eye disease (see list below). Most importantly, it should be stressed that smoking aggravates Graves’ eye disease.

Physicians may advise the following to relieve symptoms associated with Graves’ eye disease:

  • discontinue smoking
  • avoid smoke-filled rooms
  • use lubricating eye drops
  • cover eyes while sleeping
  • wear wrap-around dark glasses outdoors during the day
  • elevate the head of the bed to reduce overnight eye swelling
  • wear prism glasses, or cover one eye with a patch, to relieve double vision
  • turn ceiling fans off before going to bed
  • avoid exposure to strong sunlight
  • avoid or limit wearing contact lenses
  • take diuretics temporarily to relieve swelling around the eyes

When symptoms of inflammation are severe, either steroids in large doses or radiation therapy may be advised. Surgery (orbital decompression) is sometimes recommended when the inflammation is so severe that loss of vision is threatened. The choice of therapy among steroids, radiation, and surgery (used individually or in combination) and the timing of therapy require a great deal of thought on the part of the team caring for the patient with Graves’ eye disease.

Once the inflammation in the eyes has stabilized, or entered the inactive phase, patients may then have surgery to relieve signs and symptoms, such as lid retraction, swelling around the eyes, or double vision. Ophthalmologists specializing in plastic surgery of the eye perform the surgery to relieve lid retraction and swelling around the eyes. Sometimes other ophthalmologists who specialize in diseases of the muscles of the eye perform the operation(s) to relieve double vision.

Medical and Surgical Treatment Options for Graves’ Eye Disease

  • steroids
  • radiation therapy
  • surgical adjustment of eyelid placement
  • plastic surgery for swelling around the eye(s)
  • eye muscle surgery for realignment of the eye(s)
  • orbital decompression
What is the Thyroid?

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland just below the Adam’s apple. This gland plays a very important role in controlling the body’s metabolism, that is, how the body functions. It does this by producing thyroid hormones (T4 and T3), chemicals that travel through the blood to every part of the body. Thyroid hormones tell the body how fast to work and use energy.

The thyroid gland works like an air conditioner. If there are enough thyroid hormones in the blood, the gland stops making the hormones (just as an air conditioner cycles off when there is enough cool air in a house). When the body needs more thyroid hormones, the gland starts producing again.

The pituitary gland works like a thermostat, telling the thyroid when to start and stop. The pituitary sends thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid to tell the gland what to do.

About 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Many are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. No age, economic group, race, or sex is immune to thyroid disease.

The thyroid gland might produce too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), making the body use energy faster than it should, or too little hormone (hypothyroidism), making the body use energy slower than it should. The gland may also become inflamed (thyroiditis) or enlarged (goiter), or develop one or more lumps (nodules).

Fact:Two of the most common thyroid diseases, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease, are autoimmune diseases and may run in families.
Fact:Hypothyroidism is 10 times more common in women than in men.
Fact:One out of five women over the age of 75 has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
Fact:Thyroid dysfunction complicates 5%-9% of all pregnancies.
Fact:About 15,000 new cases of thyroid cancer are reported each year.
Fact:One out of every 4,000 infants is born without a working thyroid gland.

What is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism makes the body speed up. It occurs when there is too much thyroid hormone in the blood (“hyper” means “too much”). Nearly 10 times more frequent in women, it affects about 2% of all women in the United States.

The most common cause of hyperthyroidism, Graves’ disease, is caused by problems with the immune system and tends to run in families. It affects at least 2.5 million Americans, including Olympic athlete Gail Devers who won a gold medal in track after being diagnosed with and treated for Graves’ disease.

Symptoms include:

  • fast heart rate
  • nervousness
  • increased perspiration
  • muscle weakness
  • trembling hands
  • weight loss
  • hair loss
  • skin changes
  • increased frequency of bowel movements
  • decreased menstrual flow and less frequent menstrual flow
  • goiter
  • eyes that seem to be popping out of their sockets.

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism rarely occur all at once. However, if you have more than one of these symptoms, and they continue for some time, you should see your doctor.

Have more questions? Need more answers? Check our Full Thyroid FAQ

Thyroid Surgery Recovery

Just like any other operation, the body needs time to recover.  The wound needs time to heal also. One must not lift heavy objects for about two weeks after the operation to avoid any strain on the neck wound. Most people are able to return two work two weeks after surgery. This will also depend on how strenuous one’s job is. Thyroid surgery recovery also depends on an individual’s age, general health and extent of the surgery.

Thyroid Surgery Complications

A thyroid surgery is generally a safe surgery. But just like any other surgeries, there is also a risk of complications. These complications include hoarseness and change of voice. The thyroid surgery can damage the nerves that control the voice. This can be prevented though if the surgeon is experienced or if the patient is undergoing lobectomy rather than total thyroidectomy. Another thyroid surgery complication can be hypoparathyroidism. This may occur if the parathyroid glands are accidentally removed during total thyroidectomy. A patient may not face this complication if thyroid surgery is just lobectomy. There are also other thyroid surgery complications that an individual may face, such as the need for calcium replacement if the parathyroid gland had been removed and thyroid hormone replacement if the thyroid gland had been completely removed. One may also get an infection in the wound.

Thyroid FAQ & Links to Related Articles

Parathyroid

There are four parathyroid glands that are normally having the size of a single rice grain. In some normal cases, they can be as big as the size of a pea.

Hypothyroid

Also called underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism is a disorder that is characterized by abnormal level of thyroid hormones in the body, which is too low.

Thyroid Glands

The thyroid is a butterfly (pear)-shaped gland, it consists of 2 symmetrical lobes joined by a central isthmus that normally covers the 2nd & 3rd tracheal rings.

Congenital Hypothyroidism

Congenital hypothyroidism is a thyroid gland disorder that may lead to deafness or mental retardation if left undetected.

Thyroid Depression

Hypothyroidism can cause depression. Most people don?t realize that this feeling is depression caused by the thyroid gland not functioning as it should.

Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Papillary thyroid cancer is one of the thyroid cancer types. This type of thyroid cancer arises from the follicles in the thyroid gland.

Thyroid Gland Function

The thyroid gland is located immediately below the larynx on each side of and anterior to the trachea. It is one of the largest of the endocrine glands

Thyroid Hormone

These thyroid hormones are responsible in regulating the body?s metabolism, which is how much food will be broken down into useful energy for consumption.

Thyroid Levels

When the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, one may suffer from hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

The thyroid stimulating hormone is produced by the pituitary gland. The thyroid stimulating hormone promotes the growth of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones are chemical substances produced by the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck.

Supplements for the Thyroid

Natural thyroid supplements are helpful as a remedy to thyroid disorders. Its natural ingredients assure one of its safeties in taking it.

Thyroid Symptoms in Women

The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland that is the primary responsible in regulating the body?s metabolism.

Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid surgery is used to treat people with thyroid problems such as thyroid cancer, thyroid nodules and hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid Test

Thyroid tests or thyroid function tests are done to check the thyroid function in one?s body. A doctor will be able to determine and diagnose the thyroid disorder.

Thyroid Treatment

Treatment for thyroid disorders should be done to prevent unwanted results caused by the severity of the condition. Consult a physician for more of these treatments.

Thyroidectomy

Thyroidectomy is a surgical process wherein the whole or a part of the thyroid gland is removed. This surgical process is used to treat thyroid disorders.

Underactive Thyroid

Having an underactive thyroid is a minor problem but it seeks proper attention to avoid further health problems. Consult a physician about any thyroid problem.

Low Thyroid

Low thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism, is a condition where the thyroid gland is under active.

Underactive Thyroid Diet

Following a healthy meal plan, exercise and proper medication goes hand in hand to treat hypothyroidism. Consult a physician for a more individualized plan.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Each thyroid cancer treatment depends on the type of thyroid cancer and the extent or stage of the thyroid cancer one is suffering from.

Parathyroid Hormone Levels

Parathyroid hormones are considered to be the most important endocrine regulator. It basically regulates the calcium and phosphorus concentration in the body.

Parathyroid Disease

Studies show that since 1925, the standard treatment for parathyroid disease is to surgically remove the parathyroid gland(s) which are overproducing parathyroid hormones.

Parathyroid Adenoma

Parathyroid adenoma is a small tumor of the parathyroid gland and is known to be the most common disorder of the gland.

Medullary Thyroid Cancer

Medullary thyroid cancer is one of the types of thyroid cancer. This type of thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men.

Overactive Thyroid

Most people don?t feel any symptoms. Others can just lose weight and just feel depressed for no reason at all.

Hypothyroidism

Suppose you go in for a routine checkup and your doctor decides to test your thyroid function. You?ve experienced no thyroid disease symptoms

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

Hypothyroidism develops for over a long period of time. It?s normally from several months to even several years.

Hypothyroidism Natural Treatment

People who are suffering from hypothyroidism are advised to get plenty of exercise and have a balanced and healthy diet. The diet must be rich in protein and iodine.

Hypothyroidism Diet

Self medicating one?s thyroid disorder with hypothyroidism diet pills without proper information of the diet pill does not address the problem.

Hyperthyroidism Symptoms & Treatment

Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much thyroid hormones more than the body needs.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is one of the chronic diseases in the world. Hypothyroidism is also known as underactive thyroid; hypo means under or below normal.

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a type of thyroid cancer that is rare and aggressive. It affects the thyroid gland and most especially its function.

Thyroid Disorders

Problems arise if the thyroid gland is overactive or underactive. There are three common thyroid disorders. These are hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and the thyroid nodules.

Thyroid Hair Loss

Hair loss may happen for so many reasons but it is commonly associated to thyroid problems such as hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

Thyroid Function Test

Thyroid Function Tests are the different tests conducted to assess and determine the cause of an individual?s thyroid problems.