Total Thyroidectomy Removal Surgery
by Dr Majid Ahmed Talikoti
While many types of thyroid conditions or diseases of the thyroid gland can be effectively treated with prescription medications, thyroid surgery may be performed or recommended in certain cases such as thyroid cancer, an enlarged thyroid that causes symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or breathing, an overactive thyroid gland – hyperthyroidism, or when a patients elects not to take radioactive iodine treatments or medications to treat a thyroid disorder. Thyroid surgery is fairly common and typically a safe procedure, however, sometimes complications can occur such as changes in the voice due to damage to the nerves or hypoparathyroidism when the parathyroid glands are accidentally removed or damaged which can cause a deficiency in calcium levels. Total Thyroidectomy Of the three main types of thyroid surgery, total thyroidectomy is the most common and is typically done for the treatment of thyroid cancer, but may also be performed on patients who have Grave’s disease which causes hyperthyroidism or when a patient has goiter which is the enlargement of the thyroid gland. This type of thyroid surgery consists of the removal of the entire thyroid gland as well as the surrounding lymph nodes. The most common complication that occurs in approximately six percent of individuals who undergo this surgery is the development of the condition known as hypocalcemia which is a calcium deficiency. Subtotal Thyroidectomy A subtotal thyroidectomy is the partial removal – approximately fifty percent – of the thyroid gland with the intent of leaving as much of the thyroid gland that is needed to produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormones. This surgery may be performed to remove a tumor that has grown in the thyroid, to reduce an enlarged thyroid (goiter), or to treat the condition of hyperthyroidism which is the overproduction of the thyroid hormone thyroxine. This type of surgery is typically very effective for curing the condition of hyperthyroidism, however, it is not recommended in all cases as it can cause serious complications such as the paralysis of the vocal chords, or the damgage or removal – accidentally – of the parathyroid glands which regulate the level of calcium within the body. A thyroid lobectomy also consists of the partial removal of the thyroid gland, however, only approximately twenty five percent of thyroid is removed. Complications that can occur after a Thyroidectomy While thyroid surgery is typically a safe procedure, there are complications that may arise and are more likely to occur when having a total thyroidectomy than when having a subtotal thyroidectomy. These complications include hypoparathyroidism which are underactive parathyroid glands that can occur when these glands which regulate the level of calcium within the body are accidentally damaged or removed during thyroid surgery. This results in the condition known as hypocalcemia which is an insufficient level of calcium in the system. Laryngeal nerve damage is also another potential complication of thyroid surgery which can cause a change or hoarseness in the voice as these nerves control our voice.