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A thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure aimed at removing all or part of the thyroid gland, often necessary for treating thyroid cancer, hyperthyroidism, or large thyroid nodules. Learn about the process, risks, recovery, and post-operative care to make an informed decision about this crucial treatment option.

Dr. Manish Taneja

Thyroid Nodule Specialist, Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

An Introduction to Thyroidectomy

Your thyroid gland is one of the most important organs in your body. This small gland at the front of your neck governs your metabolism and much of how your body functions. When the thyroid gland produces too little of its hormones, your metabolism slows down. When it produces two much, however, your metabolism can go into overdrive.

Your thyroid can also develop benign nodules or cancerous lumps, both of which can increase the size of the thyroid and can, in some cases, cause issues. Both an overactive thyroid and an enlarged one may sometimes be treated with thyroidectomy.

What is Thyroidectomy?

Thyroidectomy is removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. This is done surgically, although in some cases radioactive iodine may be used to intentionally weaken the thyroid gland as an alternative. You should talk to a specialized thyroid nodule clinic in Singapore such as the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic, if a thyroid nodule specialist is recommending a thyroidectomy.

What are the Types of Thyroidectomies?

Thyroidectomies can be partial or total. If you have your thyroid removed, you will need to take replacement hormones for the rest of your life. There are three main thyroidectomy types:

  1. Traditional thyroidectomy. An incision is made in the neck and the thyroid gland or part of it is removed. The surgeon may also remove nearby lymph nodes, especially if you have cancer.
  2. Transoral thyroidectomy. Also called a “scarless” thyroidectomy. In this procedure, the surgeon goes in through your mouth. It’s a newer procedure not all surgeons are trained in, but leaves no visible scar.
  3. Minimally invasive video assisted thyroidectomy. A smaller incision is made and a camera is used to guide the surgeon. This also results in less scarring.

In both cases, the surgeon may remove one or both lobes of your thyroid, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, they may remove only the bridge of thyroid tissue between the two lobes, if that is where the tumor is. This is called an isthmusectomy. The extent of the surgery will be discussed. Surgeons typically prefer to leave as much of the gland as possible.

When Do You Need a Thyroidectomy?

There are three conditions that potentially warrant a thyroidectomy:

  1. Thyroid cancer.
  2. Thyroid nodules that have grown large enough to cause health problems, such as difficulty swallowing or compression of your windpipe.
  3. Hyperthyroidism that hasn’t responded to other treatments.

The removal of all, or even part, of the thyroid gland typically leaves you hypothyroid and needing medication; however, this is often a much more manageable condition. If you have thyroid nodules, you should talk to a thyroid nodule specialist in Singapore.

Procedure

Thyroidectomies are conducted under general anesthesia. You will be in a semi-seated position. The surgery usually takes between 1 and 2 and a half hours, depending on the extent of surgery and the method used.

You will likely be asked not to eat or drink for a period of time before the thyroidectomy procedure, and may be asked to stop certain medications and supplements that can increase the risk of bleeding. Make sure to bring a friend or family member with you, as you will be groggy after surgery and will need help getting home. You must not drive after general anesthesia.

Recovery

Thyroidectomy recovery is relatively fast. Most patients can go home the day of their procedure. In a few cases, you may need to stay overnight. Some patients experience neck pain and hoarseness, which is primarily caused by the breathing tube used during surgery. You should be able to eat and drink as normal, but avoid anything that aggravates neck pain or hoarseness. Typically, these thyroidectomy symptoms will go away fairly quickly. Talk to your doctor if hoarseness lingers for more than a day or two, as this can be a sign of problem.

You can typically return to normal activities immediately, and if your work is not physically strenuous can go right back to work. You should, however, wait at least 10 days to 2 weeks before strenuous exercise or heavy lifting. Talk to your surgeon about your activities and when you can safely resume them.

If you have a scar, it will eventually fade. In the interim, you can use sunscreen or makeup to make it less visible.

If your entire thyroid gland was removed, you will be started on thyroid hormones the next day. Many patients who have only a partial thyroidectomy do not need hormones, but you will have thyroid function checks to see if they are necessary.

Thyroid Nodule Minimally Invasive Treatment Options in Singapore

Although thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure, it may not be necessary depending on your condition. There is another, minimally invasive option such as Radiofrequency ablation in Singapore. RFA involves inserting a fine needle into your thyroid, which then produces radiofrequency waves that kill cells within. Your body then takes care of the dead cells, and this reduces the size of the nodule. This requires only local anesthesia and mild sedation. 

If you have thyroid issues, discover the latest advanced techniques for treating thryoid nodules. The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic can help with our compassionate and committed world-class specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja. Contact us to schedule an appointment and discuss your options for thyroid nodules treatment in Singapore today.

Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation aims to give patients a non-surgical option for treating thyroid nodules. This procedure is a minimally invasive option that a thyroid nodule specialist like Dr. Manish Taneja, can perform and offers various advantages.

Read More About Thyroid Nodules on Our Blog

 

To dive deeper into the types of thyroid nodule treatments, head over to our clinic’s blog.

Read our recommended thyroid nodule related blog posts to stay informed.

 

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Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various vascular conditions and pain management. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our vascular specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.