Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. This important gland, located in the lower front portion of the neck, produces thyroid hormone, which regulates the body's production of energy. A healthy thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly, with right and left lobes connected by a bridge called the thyroid isthmus. Depending on the reason for a thyroidectomy, all or part of the thyroid gland will be removed. The various types of thyroidectomy include:
Both types of thyroidectomy are usually done under general anesthesia. However, if general anesthesia is too risky for a patient, local or regional anesthesia may be used to permit the patient to remain awake during the procedure.
Conventional thyroidectomy — In a conventional thyroidectomy, a 3- to 4-inch incision will be made through the skin in the low collar area of your neck (the lower front portion of your neck, above the collarbones and breast bone). Next, a vertical cut will be made through the strap-like muscles located just below the skin, and these muscles will be spread aside to reveal the thyroid gland and other deeper structures. Then, all or part of your thyroid gland will be cut free from surrounding tissues and removed. During the entire procedure, the surgeon will pay attention to the location of the parathyroid glands (two pairs of small glands located near the thyroid). The surgeon will focus on preserving them, if possible. After your thyroid gland is removed, one or two stitches will be used to bring your neck muscles together again. Then the deeper layer of your incision will be closed with stitches, and your skin will be closed with sterile paper tapes. A small suction catheter (tube) may be inserted near the area of your incision to drain any blood accumulated inside your neck. Following surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room, where you will be monitored for several hours until you are stable enough to return to your hospital room. After about 24 hours, the suction catheter will be removed from your neck if it was needed. Most patients go home one or two days after the surgery.