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Thyroidectomy in Tampa and Spring Hill, FL

The thyroid is one of the body’s most important glands, as it monitors certain hormones levels that affect your heart, organs, skin, hair and almost every other part of your body. In some cases, the thyroid is diseased or otherwise impaired. A thyroidectomy, though, should only be performed when absolutely necessary and by a highly-skilled surgeon, such as the board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeons at Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists, serving Tampa, Spring Hill and surrounding communities in Florida.

What Is A Thyroidectomy?

The term “thyroidectomy” describes a surgical procedure that removes some or all of the thyroid gland. The procedure is usually done in cases of thyroid cancer or other thyroid disorders such as goiter or hyperthyroidism.

What Is The Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland that governs over all the others in your body. The gland produces hormones that control metabolism, sex hormone production and numerous other body functions. The body’s other endocrine (hormone-secreting) glands are the adrenals, pancreas, parathyroid, testes, ovaries and pituitary.

The butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is situated in the throat just underneath the larynx (voice box) and just above the collarbone, and it is partially wrapped around the trachea (windpipe). Each of the two lobes can be viewed as a “wing” on its butterfly-like form. A small piece of tissue called and isthmus connects the two lobes. Some people may be able to feel their thyroid gland while others may not. People with goiter have a thyroid gland that is enlarged and spread out as a result of improper chemical signals. If a goiter is large enough, the condition can be easily detected during a physical examination.

Nodules usually take the form of small masses in the neck that are detectable by touch. Many of those that cannot be felt are revealed through imaging methods such as CT scans or ultrasounds. As these grow larger, they inflict pressure on the neck’s structures. This may cause difficulty swallowing or breathing. When a large nodule or enlarged thyroid is discovered, your ENT specialist determines if surgery is necessary by performing additional testing, such as ultrasound, radioactive iodine or needle biopsies.

Reasons For Thyroidectomy

Thyroidectomy involves the removal of some or all of the thyroid gland through surgery. The gland is located toward the bottom of the neck and is shaped like a butterfly. Thyroidectomy is usually performed on patients with thyroid cancer, hyperthyroidism or goiter.

The surgical procedures used to remove the thyroid or parathyroid glands depend on the underlying disorder. For instance, removing part of the thyroid when other diagnostic tests have been inconclusive is different from removing the whole thyroid or neighboring lymph nodes in cases of cancer.

The thyroid’s job is to manufacture and secrete hormones that govern the body’s metabolic processes. When malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous) tumors develop in the thyroid gland, they may often produce visible masses on the neck. Cancerous tumors can result in symptoms such as enlarged lymph nodes, hoarseness, and difficulty or pain when breathing or swallowing.

The parathyroid glands are a fraction of the size of the thyroid and are located at several points on the larger gland. These control the metabolism of calcium, and problems with the parathyroid glands are often noticed during regular medical examinations.

Indications for Thyroidectomy

A thyroidectomy is typically recommended in cases involving goiter (enlarged thyroid) or cancer. In some situations, the surgery may be recommended for cosmetic reasons, such as an oversized thyroid that functions normally but disrupts appearance.

Although thyroidectomies are common, as with any surgery, complications are possible, such as vocal changes, disturbed calcium metabolism, infection, excessive bleeding, life-long dependence on thyroid hormone supplementation and paralysis of the vocal cords that can cause airway obstruction.

Partial Or Total Thyroidectomy

Your Suncoast ENT may remove all (total thyroidectomy) or some (partial thyroidectomy). For partial thyroidectomies, the gland may still function properly afterward. For full thyroidectomies, you must supplement daily with thyroid hormone to maintain healthy metabolic function.

Surgical Procedure

Thyroidectomies are performed under general anesthesia. An incision is made across the neck just over the thyroid gland, allowing for better healing, safer access and a clearer view of the laryngeal nerves and thyroid. The surgeon may place a drain during the surgery, which is usually removed one to two days later.

Total thyroidectomy, which removes the whole thyroid gland, is typically performed on people with thyroid cancer. Less extreme variations exist, such as a hemithyroidectomy or unilateral lobectomy, wherein half the thyroid is taken out, or subtotal thyroidectomy, wherein most of the gland is removed, but a small part is left behind in the hope that it functions properly afterward.

For the first few days following your surgery, you’ll be restricted to soft and liquid foods. Some patients may cough after swallowing liquids. If this happens to you, consider eating foods with a more pudding-like consistency. If the condition persists, you develop a fever or experience chest pain, call your doctor right away. For vocal cord weakness following surgery, consider seeing a speech pathologist to help improve healing and speed recovery.

Postoperative Care

  • Keep the incision site dry and clean.
  • Don’t allow the incision to come into contact with water for five to seven days. Dry immediately if wetness occurs.
  • Keep lotions, creams or cosmetics away from the incision.
  • Adhere to your neck exercise regimen.
  • Take any medications as directed by your doctor or surgeon.

Outcome

The results of your surgery depend on why the thyroidectomy was performed. If removal was for hyperthyroidism, these symptoms should improve:

  • Weight loss
  • Intractable fatigue
  • Nervousness and anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling consistently hot
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Tremors

If removal was done to address nodules, tumors or goiter, these outcomes might include:

  • Excising cancerous tissue
  • Improving the ability to breathe and swallow, which can be hindered by an enlarged thyroid

Thyroidectomy is an effective treatment for certain conditions that involve the thyroid gland. Because the thyroid plays such a critical role in your body, you should only undergo the procedure with one of the qualified surgeons at Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists. Contact our office in Tampa or Spring Hill to schedule your personal consultation.