What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is an organ located in the neck, just in front of the windpipe and esophagus. It regulates metabolism in the body with its hormones. The thyroid gland is highly vascularized and surrounded by many blood vessels. There are also several parathyroid glands, which regulate blood calcium levels with their hormones, located just beneath the thyroid gland. The nerve that controls the function of the vocal cords also runs just below the thyroid gland.
What are the diseases of the thyroid gland?
An abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland is referred to as “goiter.” Cysts and nodules can also develop in the thyroid gland. These cysts and nodules are usually benign, but in some patients, they can become cancerous.
In what situations is surgery necessary for thyroid gland diseases?
The main thyroid diseases that require surgery are thyroid gland enlargements associated with suspicious cysts and nodules, thyroid gland cancers, or in rare cases, thyroid gland diseases that cannot be controlled with medication. After a physical examination of the thyroid gland, an ultrasound examination is generally necessary to assess changes in its structure. Blood tests are also needed to determine thyroid hormone levels. Imaging tests such as scintigraphy, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are rarely required. If enlarged or suspicious cysts and nodules are found in the thyroid gland on ultrasound, a needle biopsy is also performed.
What are the types of thyroid gland surgeries?
Thyroid gland surgery typically involves removing either half of the thyroid gland (thyroid lobectomy) or the entire gland (total thyroidectomy) depending on the nature of the thyroid disease. In patients with thyroid cancer, the extent of surgery may be expanded to include the removal of lymph nodes in the neck depending on the spread of cancer.
What are the characteristics of thyroid gland surgeries?
Thyroid gland surgery is performed under general anesthesia. There are three important complications associated with thyroid gland surgery. The first is bleeding from the blood vessels around the thyroid gland. To prevent bleeding from the vessels, we use a special device called the Harmonic Scalpel during the surgery, which helps coagulate the blood vessels. The second complication is damage to the nerve that stimulates the vocal cords. To avoid damaging the nerve, it is essential to have a good understanding of neck anatomy and to work meticulously. Additionally, the nerve stimulators used during thyroid surgery help locate the nerve and minimize the risk of damage. The third complication is a decrease in blood calcium levels. To prevent this complication, it is important to recognize, differentiate, and protect the parathyroid glands during the surgery.
What should be considered after thyroid gland surgery?
After the surgery, the patient is typically discharged from the hospital on the second day. The patient’s blood calcium and thyroid hormone levels are monitored. Patients who have had their entire thyroid gland removed will need to take thyroid hormone medication, and the dosage will be adjusted accordingly. Additional treatments such as radioactive iodine therapy may be required after pathological examination of the removed tissue to determine if it is necessary.