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Related to thyroidectomy: Total thyroidectomy




Thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure in which all or part of the thyroid gland is removed. The thyroid gland is located in the forward part of the neck (anterior) just under the skin and in front of the Adam's apple.


All or part of the thyroid gland may be removed to correct a variety of abnormalities of the gland. If the patient has a goiter (an enlargement of the thyroid gland, causing a swelling in the front of the neck), it may cause difficulties with swallowing or breathing. Hyperthyroidism (over-functioning of the thyroid gland) produces hypermetabolism (abnormally increased use of oxygen, nutrients, and other materials). If medication cannot adequately treat this condition, or if the patient is a child or pregnant, the thyroid gland must be removed. Both cancerous tumors and noncancerous tumors (frequently called nodules) can occur and they must be removed, in addition to some or all of the thyroid gland.


There are definite risks associated with the procedure. Therefore, the thyroid gland should be removed only if there is a pressing reason or medical condition that requires it.


Thyroidectomy is an operative procedure done most commonly by a general surgeon, or occasionally by an otolaryngologist, in the operating room of a hospital. The operation begins when an anesthesiologist puts the patient to sleep. The anesthesiologist injects drugs into the patient's veins and then places an airway tube in the windpipe to ventilate (provide air for) the patient. The surgeon makes an incision in the front of the neck where a tight-fitting necklace would rest. He locates and takes care not to injure the parathyroid glands and the recurrent laryngeal nerves, while freeing the thyroid gland from these surrounding structures. The blood supply to the portion of the thyroid gland that is to be removed is clamped off. Then all or part of the gland is removed. If cancer is present, all, or almost all, of the gland is removed. If other diseases or a nodule is present, the surgeon may remove only part of the gland. The total amount of thyroid gland removed depends upon the thyroid disease being treated. A drain (a soft plastic tube that drains fluid out of the area) may be placed before the incision is closed. The incision is closed either with sutures (stitches) or metal clips. A dressing is placed over the incision and the drain, if one is used.
Patients generally stay in the hospital one to four days after completion of the operation.


Before a thyroidectomy is performed, a variety of tests and studies are usually required to determine the nature of the thyroid disease. Laboratory analysis of blood determines the levels of active thyroid hormone circulating in the body. Sonograms and computed tomography scans (CT scans) help to determine the size of the thyroid gland and location of abnormalities. A thyroid nuclear medicine scan assesses the function of the gland. A needle biopsy of an abnormality or aspiration (removal by suction) of fluid from the thyroid gland may also be done to help determine the diagnosis.
If the diagnosis is hyperthyroidism, the patient may be asked to take antithyroid medication or iodides before the operation; or continued treatment with antithyroid drugs may be the treatment of choice. Otherwise, no other special procedure must be followed prior to the operation.


The incision requires little to no care after the dressing is removed. The area may be bathed gently with a mild soap. The sutures or the metal clips are removed three to seven days after the operation.


As with all operations, patients who are obese, smoke, or have poor nutrition are at greater risk for developing complications related to the general anesthetic itself.
Hoarseness or voice loss may develop if the recurrent laryngeal nerve was injured or destroyed during the operation. This is more apt to occur in patients who have large goiters or cancerous tumors.
Hypoparathyroidism (under-functioning of the parathyroid glands) can occur if the parathyroid glands are injured or removed at the time of the thyroidectomy.
Hypothyroidism (under-functioning of the thyroid gland) can occur if all or nearly all of the thyroid gland is removed. This may be intentional when the diagnosis is cancer. If the patient's thyroid levels remain high, he may be required to take thyroid replacement for the rest of his life.
The neck and the area surrounding the thyroid gland have a rich supply of blood vessels. Bleeding in the area of the operation may occur and be difficult to control or stop. Rarely is a blood transfusion required, although a hematoma (collection of blood) may develop. If this occurs, it may be life-threatening. As the hematoma enlarges, it may obstruct the airway and cause the patient to stop breathing. If a hematoma does develop in the neck, it may require drainage to clear the airway.
Wound infections can occur. If they do, the incision is drained, and there are usually no serious consequences.

Normal results

Most patients are discharged from the hospital one to four days after the procedure. Most resume their normal activities two weeks after the operation. Patients who have cancer may require subsequent treatment by an oncologist or a endocrinologist.

Key terms

Endocrinologist — A physician who specializes in treating patients who have diseases of the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands, and/or the pancreas.
Hyperthyroidism — Abnormal over-functioning of the thyroid glands. Patients are hypermetabolic, lose weight, are nervous, have muscular weakness and fatigue, sweat more, and have increased urination and bowel movements. This is also called thyrotoxicosis.
Hypothyroidism — Abnormal under-functioning of the thyroid gland. Patients are hypometabolic, gain weight, and are sluggish.
Recurrent laryngeal nerve — A nerve which lies very near the parathyroid glands and serves the larynx or voice box.



"Thyroid Gland Removal." ThriveOnline.
Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


surgical excision of the thyroid gland. Total thyroidectomy may be performed in cases of cancer of the thyroid. Subtotal thyroidectomy, in which more than two-thirds of the gland is removed, is performed for certain patients suffering from hyperthyroidism. The remaining portion of the gland is left intact and continues to function and produce hormones.

Patient Care. Prior to surgery the patient receives intensive therapy to maximize the possibility of a successful operation. This includes the administration of antithyroid drugs, iodine preparations, and supportive measures to promote rest and improve the nutritional status. Tests of thyroid function should indicate that the patient is euthyroid; that is, the test results show no extremes of thyroid function and the patient presents mild or no symptoms of thyrotoxicosis. When the patient is adequately prepared, the dangers of hemorrhage and thyroid crisis, the two major complications of thyroidectomy, are greatly diminished.

Immediately after surgery the patient is placed in a low Fowler's or semi-Fowler's position. Motion of the head, unnecessary talking, and strenuous coughing should be discouraged. Temperature, pulse, and respirations are taken every 15 minutes until they remain within normal limits for several hours. The dressings are checked frequently for signs of hemorrhage or constriction of the throat. Special note should be made of the back of the neck, where blood may drain unnoticed. Hoarseness and slight difficulty in swallowing can be expected until the local edema subsides, but loss of the voice or severe dyspnea should be reported promptly. A tracheostomy set is kept at the bedside in case of respiratory obstruction.

Other complications to be watched for include tetany and thyroid crisis. Muscular twitching, numbness, or tingling of the hands or feet or other signs of irritability may indicate damage to, or accidental removal of, the parathyroid glands, and a resultant decrease in the calcium level of the blood. Thyroid crisis may occur as a result of an increase in the amount of thyroxine released into the blood during manipulation of the gland at the time of its removal. This complication is indicated by a rapid increase in all the vital signs, marked irritability, restlessness, prostration, and sometimes even death from heart failure. Both tetany and thyroid crisis are rare complications.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Removal of the thyroid gland.
[thyroid + G. ektomē, excision]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


n. pl. thyroidecto·mies
Surgical removal of the thyroid gland.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Surgery The partial or total surgical removal of the thyroid gland Indications Hyperthyroidism or goiter Complications Hypothyroidism, vocal cord paralysis, accidental removal of parathyroid glands, resulting in low calcium levels–parathyroid glands regulate calcium
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Removal of the thyroid gland.
[thyroid + G. ektomē, excision]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012


Surgical removal of part, or sometimes the whole, of the THYROID GLAND. This is done to reduce the output of thyroid hormones in some cases of THYROTOXICOSIS and GOITRE, and in the treatment of thyroid cancer. After total thyroidectomy replacement thyroid hormone (thyroxine, levothyroxine) must be given.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


Removal of thyroid gland.
[thyroid + G. ektomē, excision]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012
References in periodicals archive ?
Patients who underwent total thyroidectomy during the period February 2017 to September 2018 either for benign diseases like multinodular goitre (MNG) and adenomatoid goitre(AG) or total/completion thyroidectomy for well differentiated thyroid carcinomas (WDTC) in early stage (Stage I i.e.
Transoral endoscopic thyroidectomy by vestibular approach provides a midline approach with a close access to the gland resulting in a smaller flap dissection, a better cranio-caudal perspective for gland removal, and less surgical instrumental difficulties, and its learning curve could be shorter than other minimally invasive techniques (13, 16, 18).
In this cross-sectional study, eighty patients who received total thyroidectomy (40 patients with benign causes and 40 patients with malignant papillary carcinoma) in Sina Hospital (Tabriz, Iran) from 2014 to 2016 were enrolled in the study.
Recently new techniques have been introduced in performing thyroidectomy by using sealing, ligation, section and dissection devices, such as LigaSure Small Jaw and ultrasonic dissector like Harmonic scalpel.
Since the day it was identified, haemorrhage has been one of the most feared complications of thyroidectomy. Despite the advances in surgical method and instruments with its rare occurrence; post-operative hematoma remains to cause severe mortality and morbidity risks (9,11).
Among the patients included, 47.3% (n=404) underwent Total thyroidectomy and 52.69%(n=450) underwent completion thyroidectomy.
Two patients who had completion thyroidectomy following diagnostic lobectomy which showed HCC were found to have HCA in the contralateral lobe.
In addition, we would like to emphasize that suture material left under the skin could be one of the causes when fistula develops from a thyroidectomy scar years after the procedure and that the fistula can close spontaneously without surgical intervention.
Completeness of thyroidectomy has great relevance for both autoimmune and malignant diseases.
She was diagnosed with thyrotoxicosis at the age of 42, for which she underwent subtotal thyroidectomy 3 years later followed by radioiodine therapy
A 21-year-old woman underwent total thyroidectomy. Three years later, she noticed a neck mass and increasing discomfort in her neck.