The thyroid is a small gland shaped like a butterfly. It’s located in the lower front part of the neck, just below the voice box. The thyroid produces hormones that the blood carries to every tissue in the body.
It helps regulate metabolism — the process by which the body turns food into energy. It also plays a role in keeping the organs functioning properly and helping the body conserve heat.
Sometimes the thyroid produces too much hormone. It may also develop structural problems, such as swelling and the growth of cysts or nodules. Thyroid surgery may be necessary when these problems occur.
Why is thyroid surgery done?
A person is most likely to undergo thyroid removal surgery if:
- A nodule on the gland is cancerous or may become cancerous. Thyroid nodules are usually benign, but your doctor will take a biopsy to check.
- A thyroid nodule or the whole gland is enlarged and causing dangerous or bothersome symptoms, such as trouble swallowing, difficulty breathing, or changes to the voice.
- A person has an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) that does not respond to other treatments. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland produces too much of the hormone thyroxine. If you have problems with anti-thyroid drugs and don’t want radioactive iodine therapy, thyroidectomy may be an option.
Types of Thyroid Gland Surgery
There are several different types of thyroid surgery. The most common are lobectomy, subtotal thyroidectomy, and total thyroidectomy.
- Lobectomy – Sometimes a nodule, inflammation, or swelling affects only half of the thyroid gland. When this happens, your doctor will remove only one of the two lobes. The part left behind should retain some or all of its functions.
- Subtotal thyroidectomy – A subtotal thyroidectomy removes the thyroid gland but leaves behind a small amount of thyroid tissue. This preserves some thyroid function. Many individuals who undergo this type of surgery develop hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. This is easily treated with daily hormone supplements.
- Total thyroidectomy – This involves removing the entire thyroid gland. This surgery is appropriate when nodules, swelling, or inflammation affect the entire thyroid gland, or when cancer is present.
What happens during a thyroid surgery procedure
If you’re having thyroidectomy as a result of thyroid cancer, the surgeon may also examine and remove lymph nodes around your thyroid. Thyroidectomy usually takes a few hours.
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.
Your throat will probably feel sore for several days.
Thyroid Gland Treatment in Kenya
At KLASS, our expert works together to diagnose hyperthyroidism and provide you with personalized care.
The experience of our thyroid specialist in Kenya leads to fewer complications and better outcomes, helping to make Kenya Laparoscopic Surgery Services a trusted center for the treatment of thyroid disease.
People with hyperthyroidism can be treated with medication to reduce the amount of hormone produced by the thyroid gland and to relieve symptoms.
For people whose condition doesn’t respond to medication or who can’t tolerate the side effects of medication, permanent treatment may be necessary. This includes radioactive iodine ablation therapy or, more rarely, surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland.
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