Lancaster General Health surgeons perform thyroid surgery to treat conditions including thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, and hyperthyroidism. During these procedures, part or all of the thyroid gland is removed.
What is Thyroid Surgery?
Surgery is used to treat thyroid problems if:
- Thyroid cancer is present or is suspected
- A noncancerous (benign) nodule is large enough to cause problems with breathing or swallowing
- A fluid-filled (cystic) nodule returns after being drained once or twice
- Hyperthyroidism cannot be treated with medicines or radioactive iodine
- Total thyroidectomy. Your surgeon will remove the entire gland and the lymph nodes surrounding the gland. Both sections (lobes) of the thyroid gland are usually removed. If you have thyroid cancer, additional treatments with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) suppression and radioactive iodine work best when as much of the thyroid is removed as possible.
- Thyroid lobectomy with or without an isthmectomy. If your thyroid nodules are located in one lobe, your surgeon will remove only that lobe (lobectomy). With an isthmectomy, the narrow band of tissue (isthmus) that connects the two lobes also is removed. After the surgery, your nodule will be examined under a microscope to see whether there are any cancer cells. If there are cancer cells, your surgeon may perform a complete thyroidectomy.
- Subtotal (near-total) thyroidectomy. Your surgeon will remove one complete lobe, the isthmus, and part of the other lobe. This is used for hyperthyroidism caused by Graves' disease.
What to Expect
During surgery, an incision is made in the skin. The muscle and other tissues are pulled aside to expose the thyroid gland.
You may have all or part of your thyroid gland removed, depending on the reason for the surgery.