The thyroid gland is a 2 inch powerhouse for your body. It produces, stores, and releases hormones into the bloodstream and controls many of your bodily functions like weight, breathing, heart rate, muscle strength to name just a few. If your physician has recommended surgery due to an overactive gland, if it has grown too large, has cysts or nodules on it, or if there is a possibility of cancer, here are some specific questions to ask your doctor about thyroid surgery.
How Much Of My Thyroid Gland Will You Be Removing?
This answer depends on the reason for your surgery. If the reason for surgery is due to an overactive thyroid gland or if it is enlarged making it difficult to swallow, breathe, or talk, the whole gland will be removed. This is called a thyroidectomy.
If the problem only exists in one half of the thyroid, the abnormal half will be removed.
If it’s due to cancer, Agave Surgical Specialists could remove all or half unless the cancer has spread. In that case it will be a thyroidectomy.
What Type Of Surgery Will I Have?
Conventional thyroid surgery is performed with an incision on the front of the neck. How large the incision will be depends on whether lymph nodes are involved and the size of the gland.
If neither of these problems exist, a smaller incision can be made in a minimal access surgery.
A robot-assisted surgery can be used which avoids both a neck incision and scar since the incision is under the arm. This type of surgery is possible if the thyroid is smaller, but not if the issue is cancer and it has spread.
How Many Surgeries Do You Perform A Year And What Is Your Typical Complication Rate?
A 1% complication rate is the national average. You want to hear what your surgeon’s rate is. This is important in relation to how many thyroid surgeries the surgeon does each year. Find one that does at least 25 surgeries per year.
What Complications Are Unique To Thyroid Surgeries?
About one in a hundred patients has the nerves that control their voice affected. Voice projection and making high pitched sounds can be altered. Usually these complications are short term and the patient’s voice will return to normal in a few weeks.
Of course all surgeries have the risk of bleeding and infection.
How Noticeable Will My Scar Be After Surgery?
Most surgeons do all they can to minimize the scar. If you have conventional or minimal access types of surgery, the incision may be in a crease to disguise it. If you have robot-assisted surgery, the scar is under the arm.
How visible a scar is afterward is partly due to the patient’s healing and the expertise of the surgeon. That is why choosing a surgeon who does many of these type surgeries is optimal.
Contact Agave Surgical Specialists if you have more questions about thyroid surgery or would like a second opinion.