Site Map

Thyroid gland removal

Total thyroidectomy; Partial thyroidectomy; Thyroidectomy; Subtotal thyroidectomy; Thyroid cancer - thyroidectomy; Papillary cancer - thyroidectomy; Goiter - thyroidectomy; Thyroid nodules - thyroidectomy

Thyroid gland removal is surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located inside the front of the lower neck.

The thyroid gland is part of the hormone (endocrine) system. It helps your body regulate your metabolism.

Images

Child thyroid anatomy
Incision for thyroid gland surgery

Presentation

Thyroidectomy - Series

I Would Like to Learn About:

Description

Depending on the reason you are having your thyroid gland removed, the type of thyroidectomy you have will be either a:

You will have general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) for this surgery. In rare cases, the surgery is done with local anesthesia and medicine to relax you. You will be awake, but pain-free.

During the surgery:

Surgery to remove your whole thyroid may take up to 4 hours. It may take less time if only part of the thyroid is removed.

Newer techniques that require a smaller incision near the thyroid or at other locations and which involve the use of endoscopy have been developed.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Your doctor may recommend thyroid removal if you have any of the following:

You may also have surgery if you have an overactive thyroid gland and do not want to have radioactive iodine treatment, or you cannot be treated with antithyroid medicines.

Risks

Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general include:

Risks of thyroidectomy include:

Before the Procedure

During the weeks before your surgery:

Several days to a week before surgery:

On the day of surgery:

After the Procedure

You will probably go home the day of or the day after surgery. In rare cases, you may need to spend up to 3 days in the hospital. You must be able to swallow liquids before you can go home.

Your provider may check the calcium level in your blood after surgery. This is done more often when the whole thyroid gland is removed.

You may have some pain after surgery. Ask your provider for instructions on how to take pain medicines after you go home.

It should take about 3 to 4 weeks for you to fully recover.

Follow any instructions for taking care of yourself after you go home.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Outcome of this surgery is usually excellent. Most people need to take thyroid hormone pills (thyroid hormone replacement) for the rest of their lives when the whole gland is removed.

Related Information

Endocrine glands
Metabolism
Hypothyroidism
Hyperthyroidism
Thyroid cancer
Simple goiter
Thyroid nodule
Surgical wound care - open
Thyroid gland removal - discharge

References

Ferris RL, Turner MT. Minimally invasive video-assisted thyroidectomy. In: Myers EN, Snyderman CH, eds. Operative Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 79.

Kaplan EL, Angelos P, James BC, Nagar S, Grogan RH. Surgery of the thyroid. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 96.

Patel KN, Yip L, Lubitz CC, et al. Executive summary of the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons guidelines for the definitive surgical management of thyroid disease in adults. Ann Surg. 2020;271(3):399-410. PMID: 32079828 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32079828/.

Smith PW, Hanks LR, Salomone LJ, Hanks JB. Thyroid. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 36.

BACK TO TOP

Review Date: 3/5/2020  

Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

ADAM Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, for Health Content Provider (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2020 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.