Thyroid Surgery: Procedure, Benefits, Cost and Side Effects
Last Updated: Aug 18, 2023
What is Thyroidectomy?
Thyroidectomy is a surgical process to remove all the parts of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ that makes hormones like thyroxine or tetraiodothyronine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones control the metabolism process of our body from heart rate to burn calories.
A surgeon performs thyroidectomy to treat thyroid conditions which include cancer, goitre, hyperthyroidism and suspicious thyroid nodules.
How much of your thyroid gland is removed during the surgery totally depends on the reason of thyroidectomy.
How is the treatment done?
Thyroid surgery is generally done under general anesthesia. Anesthesia is given in the form of liquid injection or gas through a mask and then a breathing tube is placed in the trachea to help the patient breathe. Several monitors are also placed on the body of the patient to ensure that the heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen remains at optimum levels throughout the procedure.
There are a different types of thyroid surgery. Lobectomy is done when a nodule, inflammation or swelling affects only half of the thyroid gland and only one of the lobes has to be removed. The thyroid gland is removed but some portion of thyroid tissues are left in subtotal thyroidectomy. Some functions of the thyroid are thus preserved. When nodules, inflammation or swelling affects the entire thyroid gland, total thyroidectomy is done to remove the thyroid gland and the thyroid tissues.
A surgeon makes a single incision or a number of incisions in the neck or elsewhere to remove part or the whole of the thyroid gland. In conventional thyroidectomy, a single incision is made in the center of the neck to access the thyroid gland directly. Small incisions are made in the neck and surgical instruments are inserted through them in case of endoscopic thyroidectomy. A camera is also inserted that guides the surgeon. Robotic thyroidectomy requires incisions to be made in the chest and armpit or high up in the neck. This approach prevents a person from having an incision in the center of his/her neck.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
A person suffering from the side-effects of a malfunctioning thyroid gland is eligible for treatment. A person suffering from thyroid cancer is also eligible for this treatment. Thyroid surgery helps to correct hyperthyroidism due to an overactive thyroid gland and also to treat noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid or goiter. People suffering from such conditions are eligible for treatment.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
A person who does not have a malfunctioning thyroid gland is not suitable for this treatment. Someone suffering from hypothyroidism is also not qualified to undergo this treatment. As it is a surgical procedure, prior consultation with the doctor is required. A physically unfit person should not undergo this surgery.
Are there any side effects?
Thyroid surgery is generally a safe procedure. However some side-effects are associated with this surgery. The complications may include infection, bleeding and airways can get obstructed due to the bleeding. In rare cases, one of the parathyroid glands may get affected and the person will suffer from hypothyroidism. In some other cases, a person may suffer from permanent hoarse or weak voice due to damage to the nerves.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
The patient’s throat is bound to feel sore till a few days after the surgery. A doctor may prescribe some over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen to deal with it. A person may develop hypothyroidism after the surgery. In this case, the hormone levels are brought under control with some form of levothyroxine. A person does not require much time to resume normal activities. However, the patient should wait for at least 10 days before engaging in strenuous activities.
How long does it take to recover?
Thyroid surgery normally does not produce any serious side-effect and allows the person to resume normal activities within a day. A person may return home on the day of the surgery itself or may be recommended to stay back for a night by the doctor. A person may suffer from pain in the throat for a few days. It is resolved easily by taking some medications.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
A thyroid surgery generally costs around Rs 60000 – Rs 65000 in India.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
The results of the surgery depend on how much of the thyroid gland has been removed. If part of the thyroid gland is removed, the remaining part of the gland takes over the functions of the gland. If the entire thyroid gland is removed, a person can develop hypothyroidism. In this case, a person will have to take medication containing synthetic thyroid hormone. So it will be a life-long process.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
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