The thyroid may be a small gland but plays a large role in the functioning of the body. It is located just below the voice box. Along with producing hormones that help in the transportation of blood, it also helps regulate metabolism, keeps the organs functioning optimally and helps the body conserve heat. In some cases, when the gland produces excessive hormones or when it develops structural problems, it may become necessary to remove the thyroid gland.
There are several ways of removing the thyroid gland. The most common amongst these are:
A lobectomy is performed when only half the thyroid gland is affected. In such a case, the doctor will remove only one of the two lobes.
- Subtotal Thyroidectomy
In such cases, the doctor will remove the thyroid gland but leave behind a small amount of thyroid tissue. This tissue can preserve some thyroid function but hormone supplements are often required to supplement the production of hormones.
- Total Thyroidectomy
In cases of thyroid cancer or when swelling and inflammation affects the entire thyroid gland, it may become necessary to remove the whole gland along with all thyroid tissues.
You will need to be admitted into a hospital for a thyroid removal surgery. Once admitted, meet the surgeon and anesthesiologist to answer any questions you may have about the procedure. It is important not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your surgery. The surgery is performed under anesthesia so you will not feel a thing. Once you are asleep, the surgeon will make an incision in your throat and remove a section or all of the thyroid gland. This procedure can take between 2-3 hours. After the surgery, you will be kept in observation for 24-48 hours.
The surgery can result in a slightly raised scar that can take upto 6 weeks to heal. You can resume normal daily activities a day after the surgery. However, it is advised to wait for a week before undertaking any strenuous activities. Your throat may feel sore for a few days following the surgery. This can be treated with over the counter pain medication. You may also develop hypothyroidism.
The most major risk of a thyroid removal surgery is an allergic reaction to anesthesia. Other risks of this surgery are damage to the nerves connected to the vocal cords and damage to the glands controlling calcium levels in the body.
Posted by Dr. Manohar L.Dawan