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Thyroid Surgery (Thyroidectomy)

Thyroid gland

Recent UW Publications

The Thyroid Gland

About the Thyroid Gland
 
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland located in the center of the neck (see image). It sits in front of the trachea (windpipe).
 
The thyroid gland consists of a left and a right lobe, and makes hormones which help regulate body metabolism.
 
About Thyroid Surgery (Thyroidectomy)
 
Thyroidectomy, or removal of a portion of the thyroid gland by surgery, is often performed for reasons such as thyroid nodules, thyroid cysts, goiter, Graves’ disease, hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer. In most cases, surgery consists of removal of one side of the thyroid (thyroid lobectomy) or all of the thyroid (total thyroidectomy).
 
Advantages of Thyroidectomy for Thyroid Cancer
 
Thyroidectomies offer many advantages including: 
  • Improves the ability to use radioactive iodine after surgery
  • Reduces the dose of radioactive iodine needed after surgery
  • Allows monitoring for recurrence with radioactive iodine scans
  • Improves survival in certain patients
  • Decreases the rate of recurrence
  • Reduces the risk of patients developing metastatic disease
  • Risks of surgery are similar to a lobectomy which offers less advantages 
Patients with thyroid cancer who are treated by surgeons who perform a large number of operations have significantly shorter hospital stays, lower complication rates and increased quality of life and survival. Fortunately, complications after surgery are rare, but include bleeding, low blood calcium levels and hoarseness. Many patients can go home the same day.

Our UW endocrine surgeons have specialized training in endocrine surgery in addition to their surgical training, and have performed more than 1,600 thyroid operations, including thyroidectomies, over the past five years.