Thyroid Removal Surgery

Thyroid Removal Surgery: Factors to Consider, Cost, Procedure and Recovery

Thyroid removal surgery becomes a necessity for several disorders. It is recommended when you develop cancerous nodules, enlargement of thyroid nodules or suffer from an overactive thyroid gland, which does not respond to other treatments. The thyroid is a small yet important gland that sits in front of your neck. The butterfly-shaped gland sits on the lower part of the neck. The thyroid gland plays an important role in your body functions. It has the following purposes:

  • It produces hormones, which are circulated throughout the body.
  • The hormone is responsible for regulating metabolism and body temperature.
  • Thyroid hormones maintain bone health and maintain muscle control.
  • It also supports your digestive system as well as the heart.

thyroid removal surgery

Removing the thyroid gland surgically is suggested by the doctor due to various reasons. Read ahead to know in detail about the procedure, its cost, how to find a good surgeon, and the recovery options.

Use Of Thyroid Removal Surgery

Your doctor can suggest thyroid nodule removal surgically when you experience certain things. It can affect your overall health. So, you need to undergo the invasive procedure if:

  • The nodule in the thyroid gland becomes cancerous. In most cases, the thyroid nodules are benign. But, your doctor performs a biopsy to check the presence of malignant cells.
  • The thyroid nodule or the whole gland enlarges. It can trigger bothersome symptoms or becomes dangerous to your health. When you experience problems like difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing or changes in your voice, the doctor suggests the procedure.
  • When you suffer from hyperthyroidism, which does not respond to other treatments. The overactive thyroid gland can trigger several signs and cause you discomfort.
  • Toxicity of one or more thyroid nodules that trigger hyperthyroidism.
  • Suffer from an autoimmune disorder like Graves’ disease that causes your thyroid gland to produce more hormone than necessary for the body.

Types Of Thyroid Removal Surgery

There are different types of thyroid removal surgery. Your surgeon decides the right one for you based on your specific thyroid problem and overall health. The different types include:

Hemithyroidectomy

The surgery is also known as unilateral thyroid lobectomy. It removes one half or lobe of the thyroid gland. The surgery is suggested by your doctor when they find suspicious thyroid nodules. It is also suggested for small differentiated thyroid cancer or low-risk thyroid cancer (limited to one side of the thyroid gland).

Isthmusectomy

Isthmusectomy is the surgical technique used to remove the isthmus. It is the nodule connecting the two lobes of your thyroid. It is also used to remove the tumor developed on the isthmus.

Total Thyroidectomy

Total Thyroidectomy

As the name suggests, your entire thyroid gland is removed. It is the most common thyroid procedure compared to partial counterparts. So, it is used when you suffer from the following:

  • Bilateral thyroid nodules
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Graves’ disease

Finding The Right Doctor For Thyroid Removal Surgery

All surgeons in a hospital are not qualified for performing thyroid surgery. So, you must never opt for the services of a surgeon blindly. You need a true expert to perform the surgery due to the high risks associated with it. An unqualified doctor can cause devastating complications. So, without expertise, thyroid removal surgery can result in irreversible problems. The surgeon with no experience can make the following errors:

VoiceBox Issues

Cutting the nerve in your voice box accidentally. It can put you at risk of voice box paralysis. The condition is permanent. You can get back your voice after undergoing several procedures. But, voice box paralysis is an irreversible condition.

Breathing Problem

Breathing Problem

An inexperienced surgeon can cause damage to both the nerves in your voice box. So, it can cause serious problems with breathing. You need a breathing tube in the neck for overcoming the complications. So, you have to undergo a procedure known as tracheotomy. It involves placing a tube in your windpipe after creating an opening in the neck. A tube is inserted through the cut to allow air into the lungs.

Damage/Removal Parathyroid Glands

Damage/Removal Parathyroid Glands

If the surgery causes problems to your parathyroid glands, then you need medications like a parathyroid hormone, calcium or vitamin D supplements for your entire life.

Therefore, you need to consult an expert surgeon to avoid any incomplete surgery or complications. People who undergo surgery by mediocre surgeons suffer from incomplete removal of tumors. So, you need a proficient and experienced surgeon to perform the surgery. How can you find the perfect surgeon to undergo the surgery? The following tips can help you find the perfect surgeon to perform the surgery.

Get Reviews Of The Surgeon

When you buy a product, you tend to read the review and then decide. You can follow the same method to find the best surgeon to undergo thyroidectomy. To get the right review, you need to talk to the following people:

  • Prior patients who have undergone surgery from the same surgeon. Their experience can shed light on the skill levels of the surgeon.
  • You can talk to the hospital workers about the surgeon’s proficiency in completing a surgery successfully.
  • Talking to the nurses at the hospital can offer information who the surgeon works under pressure and deals with complicated cases.
  • You can ask doctors in the hospital like anesthesiologists, radiologists, etc. about the surgeon.

Verify Qualification

You need to check the qualification of the surgeon before undergoing the procedure. The surgeon must have a fellowship from a recognized organization. A board-approved/certified surgeon has the necessary qualification to perform surgery.

Number Of Surgeries Performed

A surgeon with good experience can perform 25 or more surgeries in a year. The qualified surgeon also tends to have the lowest complication rates. So, you need to find a surgeon who has adequate experience with such surgery and offers the best results to the patients. A good track record of the surgeon offers you peace of mind as you can feel safe in the hands of the surgeon.

Know The Complication Rate

Complication refers to the number of patients who experience the problem after the thyroid surgery from the total surgeries performed. So, if a surgeon performs a total of two surgeries and one patient experienced a problem, then it makes the complication rate of the surgeon 50%. You can ask the surgeon directly about the complication rate of the procedure. It is the ethical responsibility of the surgeon to report the truth about their complication rate to the patients.

Cost Of Thyroid Removal Surgery

The cost of thyroidectomy depends on the country you live, the type of surgery, the hospital you choose, and the days you spend in the hospital. In most of the cases, patients need to spend at least a day in the hospital. It is to prevent any complications, including bleeding and other issues. While same-day surgery has a lower price tag associated with it, it is not advisable. You need to spend some time in the hospital to eliminate all the risks. The thyroid surgery in developed countries like the USA and UK is high. You need to spend anywhere from $11,000 to $25,000 depending on the hospital you choose. People who have health insurance never have to spend the entire amount. You have to spend only a portion of the money as the rest is taken care of by the insurance companies.

You can opt for surgery in countries like India or Mexico. It is a cost-effective and time-saving option. People in the USA and UK need to wait for a long time for surgery. But, in India and Mexico, you get the services from the accredited hospital and highly-skilled surgeons. So, choosing surgery in places, which is favored for medical tourism offers you great benefits. You can undergo the surgery without any complications at a reduced cost from top-notch medical facilities. Therefore, check your options before undergoing the procedure.

Thyroid Removal Surgery Procedure

You can divide the thyroid removal surgery into three parts. Here are the details about the procedure you need to know:

Before The Surgery

Before The Surgery

Your doctor suggests taking lab and imaging tests to know about the condition. The lab tests can offer information about the patient’s overall health. You need to undergo an imaging test to know about the tumor or growth and its size.  The doctor also offers you detailed instructions about what you need to eat and drink before your surgery. If you take medication, then the doctor suggests the medication you can take safely.

During Thyroid Removal Surgery

The anesthesiologist gives you general anesthesia. So, you will sleep through the whole process. Depending on the type of surgery, your doctor makes one or more incisions in the neck. After the surgery, you need to stay in the observation area.

After Thyroid Removal Surgery

The surgery takes place without any complications with the assistance of a skilled surgeon. You will experience pain in your neck after the surgery. But, the doctor prescribes your medications to relieve the agony. You can also suffer from a sore throat or hoarse voice for a few days after the surgery. After the surgery, a drain is placed at the site of the incision to help drain the bad blood. It is removed before you leave the hospital. It supports healing.

You need to stay overnight in the hospital. The hospital staff will monitor you closely for bleeding or breathing difficulties. The number of days you stay in the hospital depends on the type of surgery you undergo. Before getting discharged, you get a detailed instruction of home care after the operation. You have to follow the instructions to enhance the healing process. Visit your doctor for a follow-up as suggested by the doctor. If the thyroid removal surgery is linked to cancer treatment, then the other treatments begin soon after the operation.

Risks And Side-Effects Associated With Thyroid Removal Surgery

It is important to seek the services of an experienced surgeon to perform the thyroidectomy. It reduces the risk of serious complications. However, you can face some risks like every surgery. So, the removal of thyroid gland involves the following complications:

Possibility Of Infection

Like any other surgery, people who undergo thyroidectomy can suffer from the risk of infection. But, as the risk of infection is not high, the use of antibiotics is not necessary. Since your neck is a clean area, the probability of infection is low. In cases, if you develop postoperative develop, then infected fluid is drained. You need to take antibiotics to heal the infection.

Seroma

After the surgery, fluid collects under the incision location. It can cause swelling or fullness. The minor cases get better in a few days or weeks. A large collection of fluid requires drainage by your surgeon.

Bleeding In The Neck

Though the complications are rare, it can occur. One in every three hundred patients suffers from a small amount of bleeding. The small amount of blood is dangerous as it compresses the windpipe. So, you can find it difficult to breathe properly. In such cases, the surgeon performs an urgent operation to drain the blood. It relieves the pressure on the windpipe, making it easier to breathe. The need for blood transfusion is a rare occurrence of thyroid surgery.

Voice Change

Voice change or hoarseness in your voice is another complication of thyroid removal surgery. You have two sets of nerves near the thyroid gland. These nerves play an important part in controlling your voice. Recurrent laryngeal nerve and superior laryngeal nerve’s external branch are the two nerves present near your thyroid gland. The damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve can change your voice or lose it. 1% of the patients undergoing thyroidectomy can experience nerve damage. If you are a professional singer or voice artist, then you can notice the subtle change in your vocal function.

Hypoparathyroidism

It is the condition occurring due to the damage or removal of parathyroid glands. It results in low calcium levels in your blood. The parathyroid glands are the small glands present near the thyroid gland. It controls the calcium levels in your blood. The four glands, which are the size of a rice grain are either attached to your thyroid gland or present on each side. In some cases, the glands are situated inside your thyroid gland. Once you undergo thyroidectomy, the parathyroid gland may not function properly. So, your doctor provides you with instructions to take calcium or vitamin D supplements. You have to take it as prescribed for at least a week or two after the surgery.

Recovery Process After Thyroid Removal Surgery

The surgery has no side effects or complications. You can experience some pain and swelling during the recovery period. People who undergo thyroid removal surgery can suffer from a sore throat for a few days to 2-3 weeks (recovery period). You can experience the following signs during the recovery period:

  • Difficulty while speaking
  • Pain
  • Stiffness of neck
  • Windpipe irritation
  • Hoarse voice

To relieve the pain after the surgery, you can take an over-the-counter painkiller like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you suffer from severe pain, then you need a stronger dose of prescription painkillers.

Taking Care Of Incisions

Depending on the incisions used (surgical glue or steristrips) you need aftercare. In some cases, you need to visit your doctor after ten to fourteen days for removing the stitches. You never need a further dressing on the incision. To help with the healing process, you can apply Vitamin E oil. But, it is not necessary. Try not to wet the incisions completely. So, take a shower as it can get slightly wet. When you venture outside, apply sunscreen to protect the incision from the harmful rays of the sun.

Resuming Regular Activity

In most cases, people can return to regular activities after a few days of the surgery. It is important to stay in the hospital for a day or two to eliminate any complications like bleeding. You need to limit physical activities and participating in sports for a few days or weeks. You need an all-clear from your doctor to start again. Try to resume regular activity gradually. You can perform light activities like walking outside within a few days of surgery. You can also climb stairs. But, avoid strenuous activities or lift heavyweights. You can drive when you stop taking pain medications and feel well (third or fourth day after surgery). It is possible to return to work within one to two weeks. You will feel comfortable to resume your work after the resting period.

Medication You Need To Take

People who have undergone total thyroidectomy need to take thyroid tablets for the rest of their life. It is because you have no thyroid gland to generate the hormone necessary for the body. Since the thyroid hormone has a longer half-life, you have to wait for six to eight weeks after taking or changing the medication to detect if the dose is right for you. Your physician can adjust the medication if needed. When you become pregnant, you need to take an increased dose of thyroid medication. Once your doctor corrects the dose, you need to remain on the same dose for your remaining life.

To manage your thyroid levels, your doctor suggests a blood test. The endocrinologist or physician can suggest TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test to detect thyroxine levels. With proper medication, you can keep the thyroid levels under control. You need to undergo a blood test every three months to ensure thyroid levels are normal. People undergoing thyroidectomy can suffer from low calcium levels. If you see symptoms associated with low blood calcium, then you need to take calcium supplements. So, you need to make an appointment with the doctor at regular intervals to check the status of thyroid and calcium levels.

Conclusion

Thyroid removal surgery is necessary when you suffer nodules, toxic nodules, goiters, Graves’ disease, or thyroid cancer. By selecting the best doctor with experience in performing the surgery, you can undergo the invasive procedure without any hassles. The risk of complications is low when a proficient surgeon performs the surgery. A person undergoing total thyroidectomy needs to take medication to replenish the thyroid hormones. Always follow the guidelines suggested by the doctor to prepare for the surgery and ensure a smooth recovery. So, you need to follow the instruction suggested by the doctor religiously to prevent any complications.

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