Thyroidectomy & Parathyroidectomy

What are a thyroidectomy and parathyroidectomy?

The thyroid and parathyroids are glands situated at the front of the neck responsible for producing hormones. Thyroid hormones are responsible for regulation of metabolism and parathyroid hormone is responsible for regulation of calcium in the body. A thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure to partially or completely remove the thyroid gland while a parathyroidectomy is the removal of one or more of the parathyroid glands.

When is surgery needed?

A thyroidectomy or parathyroidectomy may be advised in the following cases:

  • When the thyroid is swollen, enlarged or overactive (Hyperthyroidism)
  • When a goitre is interfering with breathing
  • To remove a tumour of the thyroid (whether cancerous or benign)
  • When complications of hyperparathyroidism arise
  • When elevated calcium levels are caused by the parathyroid

How is surgery done?

If a thyroidectomy or parathyroidectomy is advised, Dr Ross will explain the surgery to you in detail before you are put under general anaesthesia. In most cases, Dr Ross will take an open approach to thyroidectomy. A 6-8cm incision is made in the neck to properly expose the area and to avoid injury to blood vessels and nerves. The whole or part of the gland is removed, and the incision closed. Parathyroidectomy can sometimes be done through a much smaller incision if only one or two glands need to be removed

What can I expect after surgery?

Naturally, upon waking from anaesthesia, you can expect some initial pain in the neck and throat. Your surgeon will prescribe painkilling medication to relieve any discomfort. You will need to remain in the hospital for observation overnight, and you may experience difficulty chewing and swallowing as well as a hoarse voice for a few days. Your nurses will discuss caring for your incision and wounds at home, and when you should see your surgeon for a follow-up. After you have been discharged, you should be sure to contact Dr Ross should any symptoms of infection such as fever, excessive pain and vomiting, present themselves.


parallax background

Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence.
It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes
a willingness to try.

Atul Gawande, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance


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