The most common reason for thyroid surgery is the presence of nodules or tumors on the thyroid gland.
Most nodules are benign, but some can be cancerous or precancerous.
Even benign nodules can cause problems if they grow large enough to obstruct the throat, or if they stimulate the thyroid to overproduce hormones (a condition called hyperthyroidism).
Indications for surgery:
- Surgery can correct hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is frequently the result of an autoimmune disorder called Graves’ disease.
Graves’ disease causes the body to misidentify the thyroid gland as a foreign body and send antibodies to attack it.
These antibodies inflame the thyroid, causing hormone overproduction.
- Another reason for thyroid surgery is the swelling or enlargement of the thyroid gland. This is referred to as a goiter. Like large nodules, goiters can block the throat and interfere with eating, speaking, and breathing.
Types of thyroid surgery:
There are several different types of thyroid surgery. The most common are lobectomy, subtotal thyroidectomy, and total thyroidectomy.
- Sometimes, a nodule, inflammation, or swelling affects only half of the thyroid gland. When this happens, a doctor will remove only one of the two lobes. The part left behind should retain some or all of its function.
- 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 treated with daily hormone supplements.