Goiter is a condition that describes an abnormal enlargement in your thyroid gland, and it’s fairly common. Goiter affects about 5% of the population in the United States. From these simple facts, however, the condition gets far more complex as goiter can be caused by a number of different issues that lead to a wide range of symptoms.
In this month’s blog post, the team of general surgeons here at Rockwall Surgical Specialists takes a closer look at goiter and when thyroid surgery might be the best course of action.
Goiter — a symptom of many different problems
It’s helpful to think of goiter as more of a symptom or consequence of a number of different issues that can affect your thyroid gland, including:
- Iodine deficiency, which isn't very common in the US
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder that can reduce production of your thyroid hormones
- Graves’ disease, a disorder in which your thyroid overproduces hormones
- Tumors, both benign and malignant
- Trauma to your thyroid
- Multinodular goiter — nodules in your thyroid gland
Any number of issues can cause an abnormal enlargement in your thyroid gland, so getting a proper diagnosis is the first order of business.
As you can see by the diverse list above, treating goiter depends entirely upon the underlying cause, whether thyroid production has been affected, and whether the enlargement is causing physical difficulties, such as problems breathing or swallowing.
If your goiter is affecting your production of thyroid hormones, it can lead to either hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormones) or hyperthyroidism (too many thyroid hormones). With hypothyroidism, medications to supplement the deficit in hormones is usually the best course of action and this approach can also help to shrink the goiter.
If your thyroid is producing too many hormones, nonsurgical treatments such as radioactive iodine can reduce the goiter as well as the hormone production.
Your doctor would recommend surgery for goiter if the enlargement is causing problems with breathing and/or swallowing. As well, if your thyroid is overproducing hormones and conservative treatments aren’t working, having us surgically remove the toxic nodule that’s responsible for the excess thyroid hormones may be the best approach.
Another situation in which surgery might be a good idea is if the goiter created problematic scar tissue in your thyroid gland.
Rest assured, if surgery is the best option for your goiter, you’re in good hands with our team. We have extensive experience with thyroid surgery, and we work with your medical team to ensure that your goiter is properly treated.
If you have more questions about goiter surgery or you need to schedule a procedure, please don’t hesitate to contact us at one of our locations in Rowlett, Rockwall, Greenville, Terrell, and Forney, Texas.