Thyroid surgery can be a source of relief for patients dealing with various thyroid diseases.
The thyroid gland regulates and influences a number of functions. Conditions related to the thyroid gland can require surgery in order to treat them.
There are a number of innovative approaches to thyroid surgery that can make the procedure more effective for the patient, including minimally invasive procedures, ultrasound guided biopsies, and robotic thyroid surgery.
How it Works
There are several surgical approaches that may be appropriate for thyroid conditions. A lobectomy removes one of the lobes of the thyroid gland as well as the isthmus of the gland. However, the other lobe is left in place, allowing the gland to continue to produce thyroid hormones for the body. In other cases, however, with diseases like Graves’ disease or cancer, a total thyroidectomy may be necessary.
For a standard lobectomy or thyroidectomy, a three-to-five-inch incision is cut into the lower area of the patient’s neck. A minimally invasive technique is used to remove the gland using small incisions. By using an endoscope to perform the surgery, a surgeon is able to reduce scarring and the time necessary for healing.
Some thyroidectomies can be performed without an incision to the neck; for example, the transaxillary robotic thyroid procedure can be performed through an incision in the armpit. This procedure uses a precision endoscope that allows the surgeon to control the gland’s removal with precise microsurgical movements. It makes use of three robotic arms and an endoscope with two cameras; the primary surgeon directs the robotic arms while a surgical assistant changes instruments. The console used by the surgeon provides exceptionally clear, magnified visuals. However, this type of surgery is not always appropriate for some kinds of cancer, tumors or inflamed thyroid glands due to Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Candidates for Thyroid Surgery
The type of procedure that is recommended for a patient depends on the disease that requires treatment. Most types of thyroid cancer require full removal of the thyroid gland. In addition, large goiters can require removal, as can diseases like Graves’ disease. While hyperthyroidism due to Graves’ disease – the production of excessive amounts of thyroid hormone – can be suppressed with medication, a final resolution of the issue requires the removal of the thyroid gland.
The decision about which type of surgery to use also depends on the type of disease that requires treatment. Benign thyroid nodules on one side of the gland may be appropriate for a thyroid lobectomy, but surgery for thyroid cancer may require a thyroidectomy performed through a neck incision. The size of the incision and the type of procedure – standard, minimally invasive or minimally invasive video-assisted – is determined by the surgeon based on the state of the gland and the disease in question.
What to Expect
Thyroid surgery can provide complete relief for patients dealing with thyroid diseases or cancer. Following a total thyroidectomy, patients will eventually develop hypothyroidism and in most cases will take a daily medication to replace the body’s natural thyroid hormones.