You will be in theatre for 60-90 minutes
Recovery usually takes a couple of weeks
You will have a small scar in the lower neck
This procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and you will be required to stay in hospital overnight. Either one half of the thyroid is removed (Thyroid Lobectomy) which takes about 1 hour, or the whole thyroid is removed (Total Thyroidectomy) taking around 90 minutes.
A small incision (5cm) is sited in the lower neck. The thyroid gland is removed with an instrument called a Harmonic Scalpel. This instrument cuts and coagulates thyroid tissue using high frequency ultrasound technology. This effectively reduces blood loss and helps to significantly reduce operating time. As a result, most patients do not require a drain to be inserted afterwards, minimising pain. The risk of bleeding is approximately 1 in 100. A nerve monitor is used to help find and protect the nerve which lies next to they thyroid. Damage to this nerve can result in voice change. Permanent voice change occurs in approximately 1 in 250 operations.
The continuous stitch under the skin requires removal one week after the operation. To aid wound healing it is beneficial to massage the scar twice a day for at least 2 months, starting 2 weeks after surgery.
If a total thyroidectomy is performed, there is also a risk of a low blood calcium afterwards due to injury to the parathyroid glands. This occurs in 1 in 15 patients, who will have to take a tablet (calcium/vitamin D) every day to normalise the blood calcium level.
A thyroid hormone tablet (thyroxine) will also be required to be taken on a long term basis after a total thyroidectomy.