Thyroid surgery can be extremely beneficial for patients afflicted with thyroid cancer, goiters, and even specific cases of hyperthyroidism. A minimally invasive thyroidectomy involves your surgeon removing either the entire thyroid or only the affected portion. The procedure itself is extremely safe. La Peer Health Systems is home to the best thyroid surgeons in Beverly Hills who have extensive training in the treatment and surgical removal of the thyroid using minimally invasive techniques.
Problems relating to a person’s thyroid are a very common occurrence and affect thousands of Americans each year. In fact, about 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and women are 5-8 times more likely to develop thyroid problems.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the lower frontal area of the neck and is responsible for the release of various hormones that regulate our growth, metabolism, and even heart rate. While the thyroid is a small gland, it plays a very important role and produces hormones that affect every single cell, tissue, and organ in the body.
When a person experiences problems with his or her thyroid, unpleasant symptoms can arise which often require immediate treatment.When someone has thyroid disease that cannot be treated with medication alone, a thyroidectomy may be necessary. The most common reasons for needing a thyroidectomy are thyroid cancer, noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid (Goiter), and an overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism).
Benefits of Thyroidectomy Surgery
Thyroidectomy is a very effective treatment option for those with hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, or thyroid nodules. It has little complications and helps patients avoid the long-term risks of radioactive iodine and anti-thyroid medications.
The minimally invasive thyroidectomy we perform at La Peer involves an incision that is only about one to one and a half inches in length, compared to the 4-6 inches that conventional thyroidectomy produces. It requires minimal down time.
Candidates for Thyroidectomy
For those with hyperthyroidism, a thyroidectomy is the only treatment option that provides an immediate cure. A thyroidectomy is an appropriate option for you if you are allergic to anti-thyroid medications, are resistant to radioactive iodine, or simply do not want to treat your condition with either of these non-surgical options.
A thyroidectomy is advisable when the thyroid gland has grown very large, there are nodules that may be cancerous, or when thyroid cancer has been diagnosed. Depending on the location of a thyroid nodule, the surgeon may be able to remove only the nodule or a part of the thyroid during a thyroidectomy.
Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid)
Hypothyroidism is a condition that causes decreased activity of the thyroid and, as a result, insufficient secretions of regulatory hormones. The most common type of treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement medication to increase the thyroid hormones in the body. Since the surgical removal of the thyroid is one of the possible causes of hypothyroidism, thyroidectomy is not typically a treatment option.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, muscle pains, dry skin, constipation, fatigue, and increased sensitivity to cold weather.
Hyperthyroidism (Overactive Thyroid)
Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid disorder, can affect people of all ages and appear suddenly. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is the autoimmune disorder, Graves’ disease. This is when the body makes an antibody called thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin that causes the thyroid to make too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with a thyroidectomy.
Most commonly, those afflicted with an overactive thyroid experience symptoms including weight loss, insomnia, shaking, nervousness and anxiety, irregular heartbeat, and fatigue.
If you’re experiencing symptoms that could be related to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, it’s important to contact a physician as soon as possible. This way you’ll be sure to receive the proper treatment and care. These conditions are generally managed medically and very rarely with surgery.
A nodule occurs as a growth that develops in the thyroid. Thyroid nodules generally go unnoticed unless found by a doctor during a routine exam. Studies have shown that up to half of the population will be afflicted with thyroid nodules at some point during their lifetime.
When thyroid nodules are discovered in a patient, doctors need to determine if the nodule is malignant or benign. This usually requires an ultrasound examination, and if the nodule has suspicious features a biopsy is done to find out if the tissue is cancerous.
In the United States, nearly 40,000 new cases of thyroid cancer are diagnosed on a yearly basis. Though most nodules are benign (non-cancerous), a small percentage does turn out to be malignant, which always requires thyroid surgery.
When detected early, thyroid cancer has a very high survival rate and can be easily treated by an expert thyroid surgeon. At La Peer Health Systems, our doctors are extremely skilled in the removal of the thyroid gland through a variety of techniques including minimally invasive techniques. This minimally invasive thyroid (MIT) surgery leads to easier patient recoveries and carries a very low risks of complication.
Preparing for a Thyroidectomy
Prior to your operation, you may need to undergo testing to ensure you are healthy enough and prepared for the surgery. Some of the typical testing patients have done include:
- Blood tests– Complete blood count, basic metabolic profile, blood pregnancy test (for women), and coagulation profile
- EKG, for men and women over 40
- Chest X-ray, for men over 50 and women over 60
- And others depending on the thyroid issue
If you have hyperthyroidism, your surgeon may prescribe you an iodine and potassium medication to help regulate your thyroid function and prevent the risk of bleeding.
You may also need to avoid eating and drinking for a certain amount of time before the surgery to avoid complications with the anesthesia.
Minimally Invasive Thyroidectomy (MIT) Surgery Process
A surgeon performs MIT with the help of an endoscopic camera, which requires a small incision to be made in the lower part of the patient’s neck.
Once you have received anesthesia, your surgeon at La Peer will make a small incision near the center of your neck to access the thyroid. Our surgeons will use an endoscopic instrument with a small camera to guide them through the procedure and remove all of or part of the thyroid, while being as minimally invasive as possible.
Use of an endoscope not only minimizes scarring, but also minimizes tissue damage and bruising during recovery time. MIT is one of the safest procedures due to the laryngeal nerve-monitoring device attached to the breathing tube on every patient, which allows surgeons to monitor the vocal cord nerve thereby decreasing the chance of injury to it.
If you’re having a thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer, the surgeon may also examine and remove lymph nodes around your thyroid.
A thyroidectomy lasts about a few hours, on average, and patients often are able to resume work and activity within a week.
What to Expect After Thyroidectomy
Many patients are discharged from the hospital only a few hours after a thyroidectomy, and others may need to stay overnight depending on the reason for the surgery. Most patients can eat, drink, and move around as normal the night, or day after, the procedure. However, all patients should avoid strenuous activities like heavy weight lifting, swimming, or soaking in a bathtub for a week following the surgery. Patients will return to the doctor’s office one to two weeks after the surgery so the surgeon can check the healing of the incision.
Most patients will have what feels like a sore throat for a few days following the surgery. Tylenol or Advil can help with the discomfort, although most patients won’t need to use anything.
Bleeding from the incision is a rare occurrence, but can happen. The small amount of patients who experience bleeding usually have it during the few hours immediately following the procedure while they’re still in the hospital. For the first 24-48 hours, patients and their loved ones should watch the incision and look for signs of bleeding, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the neck.
Most patients have no changes to their voice following the surgery, but others can experience some hoarseness after having a thyroidectomy. Any changes in the voice are temporary and should not cause any damage to the voice.
If a total thyroidectomy was performed, or most of the thyroid was removed, patients will need to take thyroid hormone replacement medication for the rest of their lives.
Contact La Peer Health Systems Today
If you are one of the thousands of Americans experiencing thyroid related problems, our expert thyroid surgeons are here to assist you. La Peer Health Systems has the best thyroid specialists in Los Angeles and our world renowned team of doctors aim to put patients first by providing them with the best care possible at all times. Contact our office by calling (855) 360-9119 to schedule your initial consultation or send us an email.
Additionally, you can learn more about minimally invasive thyroidectomy at our outpatient surgery center on our Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence website.
Next, read about Vocal Cord Surgery.