3 Types of Thyroid Problems That May Require Surgery

A thyroidectomy is a surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland to treat various thyroid conditions. Nodules or cysts located on your thyroid are the most common reason for surgery. Other reasons include thyroid cancer and Graves’ disease.

What is the thyroid?

Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your throat. It produces hormones that regulate various activities in the body, including the rate at which you use energy. Thyroid hormones influence many things and have an impact on your overall well-being.

Most people are unfamiliar with their thyroid until something goes wrong with it. Treatment for some thyroid problems may involve surgery to remove thyroid tissue. If you’ve been told that you may need thyroid surgery, it’s wise to understand what it involves and why you may need it to protect your health and feel well again.

The surgeons at Rockwall Surgical Associates are highly skilled at performing traditional and minimally invasive surgery. Our team guides you through the surgical process so you know what to expect and to ensure the best result possible. Our surgeons routinely perform thyroid surgery to treat thyroid problems such as the three that follow.

Thyroid nodule

Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that develop on your thyroid. They’re very common, and most cause no problems. However, thyroid nodules that grow very large can press against other structures in your neck, such as your trachea, and cause issues.

If you have a thyroid nodule that is large and shows signs of continued growth, or a nodule that is pressing against other structures — causing trouble swallowing or shortness of breath, for example — your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the part of your thyroid where the nodule is located.

Your thyroid has a left and right lobe situated on either side of your trachea. If you only have one large nodule causing problems and it’s isolated to one side of thyroid, your doctor may recommend a partial thyroidectomy.

Known medically as a hemithyroidectomy, this surgery removes one of your thyroid lobes and leaves you with the rest of your thyroid tissue. This is often enough tissue for the thyroid continue functioning properly after adaptive changes.

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is rare, and when people do get it, they have a good survival rate. That’s because cancer that begins in the thyroid rarely spreads to other parts of the body.

If you’re diagnosed with thyroid cancer, removal of the affected thyroid tissue is the most common treatment. The goal is to remove all of the cancerous thyroid tissue and any lymph nodes that the cancer may have reached. Radioactive iodine can be used to destroy any thyroid tissue that isn’t removed during surgery.

Graves’ disease

Sometimes, the thyroid produces too much hormone. In the case of Graves’ disease — also known as hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid gland — this happens as a result of a dysfunction with your immune system.

Radioactive iodine is often used in treating Graves’ disease, but depending on your unique situation, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery is a safe and effective treatment.

How much thyroid tissue is removed?

The amount of thyroid tissue removed depends on a number of factors, including the reason your doctor recommends the surgery. With thyroid cancer, for instance, surgeons recommend a total or near total thyroidectomy. A hemithyroidectomy is common if you have a single nodule causing trouble on only one lobe.

Your surgeon explains the planned operation so you understand how much tissue will be removed. You have the opportunity to ask questions at the consultation to address your concerns.

To learn more about your options for thyroid surgery, contact your nearest Rockwall Surgical Associates office to get started with a consultation, or book your appointment online.

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