Thyroidectomy - Medical Negligence Lawyers
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A thyroidectomy involves removing a portion or all of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a bi-lobed gland located in the front of the neck. Its job is to make two hormones used in the metabolism of the body. It can alter how you burn calories and your heart rate.
Under certain circumstances, a thyroidectomy may need to be performed. These include the following conditions :
- Cancer of the thyroid gland.
- Goiter, which is a benign enlargement of the thyroid.
- Hyperthyroidism, which is an overactive thyroid.
The whole thyroid is removed in a total thyroidectomy. When only a portion of the thyroid is removed, it’s called a partial thyroidectomy. If you have a partial thyroidectomy, it may be possible to have normal thyroid function after the surgery. Following a total thyroidectomy or a significant partial thyroidectomy, you may need hormone replacement medication on a daily basis. These hormones are called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
If you have thyroid cancer, it is the most common reason for having a total thyroidectomy. In some cases, a healthy part of the thyroid can be left behind.
If you have a goiter, such as a multinodular goiter, you have a noncancerous condition. Nodules can be removed in a partial thyroidectomy. If the goiter is big and uncomfortable, the whole thing will have to be replaced.
If you have an overactive thyroid gland, medications can be used to suppress the activity of the gland but it is also acceptable to remove the entire gland. One way to avoid having to have the surgery is to use radioactive iodine therapy. If you can’t or don’t want this procedure, go ahead with a total or even partial thyroidectomy.
A thyroidectomy is usually considered a safe procedure. It does, however, have its complications and risks. These include the following :
- Surgical or postoperative bleeding that can result in the need for a transfusion or the development of anemia.
- Airway obstruction, usually secondary to bleeding.
- A hoarse voice or a weak voice secondary to cutting or damaging nerves while in surgery.
- The condition of hypoparathyroidism can develop after surgery. This is because there are four tiny parathyroid glands imbedded in the base of the gland and the surgeon can accidentally remove these glands as a part of removing the whole gland. In such cases, you have a higher than normal amount of phosphorus in the bloodstream.
- You can get infection as part of the surgical procedure. This needs to be managed with antibiotic therapy and possibly repeat surgery to clean out abscesses.
- Scar tissue can form in the tissues or on the skin, leading to an unsightly surgical area. The doctor should do the procedure neatly and use suture that doesn’t damage the skin and tissues.
- You can get a thyrotoxic crisis, which is the sudden release of too much thyroid hormone at the time of surgery.
The factors that are taken into account when there are complications include:
- How big the goiter is.
- How much hyperthyroidism is.
- Smoking history.
- Having poor nutrition.
- Being ill with a serious, long-term illness.
If all goes well but you have the following signs or symptoms, you should call your doctor:
- You have muscle spasms or twitching from low calcium in the blood.
- You have tingling or numbness in the extremities or around the lips.
- You are very fatigued.
- You have redness or increased pain around the incision area.
- You have problems swallowing or talking or breathing.
- You have bleeding from the incision site.
- You have uncontrollable nausea or vomiting.
- You have uncontrollable pain.
- You have signs and symptoms of a bladder infection.
- You have a cough, chest pain or shortness of breath.
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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here