Thyroid gland is located below the larynx and just above the collar bones. It consists of two halves (lobs) connected by a small tissue band (isthmus). Thyroid gland produces hormones that control metabolic functions like sweating, heart rate etc and control the psychological function of the human body. Malfunctioning of the thyroid gland is very common which can be classified into the following groups.
Hypderthyoidism: Hyperthyroidism relates to an overactive thyroid gland. Goiter, graves disease, toxic adenoma etc are the common diseases caused by an overactive thyroid gland.
Hypothyroidisms: Hypothyroidism relates to an underactive thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a common disease caused by hyperthyroidism.
Enlarged thyroid: Thyroid gland may enlarge due to hyperthyroidism as well as hypothyroidism. The disease of enlargement of thyroid gland is known as goiter.
Presence of tumors or nodules in the thyroid gland is one of the reasons that necessitate the removal of thyroid gland. Some tumors may be benign where as some others may be cancerous. Even benign tumors can cause problems by obstructing the throat or by stimulating over production of thyroid hormones. Another reason which necessitates the removal of thyroid gland is the over growth of the gland causing obstruction to the throat and interfering while speaking, eating, or breathing. Graves disease identifies thyroid gland as an alien body and produces antibodies. These antibodies cause over production of thyroid hormones and also inflame the throat. Thus graves disease is also a reason for the removal of thyroid gland.
There are different types of surgeries in practice which are used for the removal of thyroid glands. They are explained below.
1) Lobectomy: In some cases only one part of the thyroid gland is affected by nodules, swellings, infection etc. So only that lob of the thyroid gland has to be removed. This is known as lobectomy. The remaining lob will be capable of performing all or part of the functions of the thyroid gland.
2) Subtotal thyroidectomy: In this procedure the whole thyroid gland is not removed. Some thyroid tissues are left undisturbed. The remaining part of the thyroid tissue will try to perform the functions of the thyroid gland. But it will not be completely successful. In such cases hypothyroidism may develop.
3) Total thyroidectomy: Total thyroidectomy is the procedure in which the entire thyroid gland is removed. When cysts have affected whole of the thyroid gland or when thyroid cancer has been diagnosed, then the removal of the entire thyroid gland is the only solution for the problem.
The surgery for removal of thyroid gland is done in an operation theatre under general anesthesia. The procedure starts with making an incision about 3 to 4 inches at the base of your neck. Using a magnifying glass the surgeon identifies the thyroid gland. Depending upon the severity of the disease only a lob of the thyroid gland or the entire gland is removed. In some cases the surgeon will remove the lymph nodes and other structures if the cancer has spread to other areas also. The surgical procedure may take 2 to 3 hours for completion. After completing the surgery the patient will be lead to the recovery room where he will be under special nursing care till he wakes up completely. The patient can have liquid dinner on the day of the surgery. If you have any throat pain medications and sprays for throat pain will be given to you. It may take one or two weeks for the complete recovery.