A common reason for referral to a surgeon is discovery of a lump (nodule) in the thyroid gland. Sometimes this nodule is felt by the patient, other times it is detected during the investigation of another medical problem, such as on a CT scan or ultrasound. The majority of nodules in the thyroid gland are benign, but cancers of the thyroid gland can also occur.
Taking a patient history, careful clinical examination and the use of appropriate investigations usually help characterise the nodule further. Investigations often include blood tests, ultrasound and biopsies (Fine Needle Aspirate). Many thyroid nodules can be safely observed, but others require surgery to remove.
Consideration of removal of the thyroid gland due to overactivity (thyrotoxicosis) is another reason patients may be referred to a surgeon. Alternatives may include the use of medication or thyroid ablation (radioactive iodine), but surgery is still recommended in some circumstances.
What is involved in Thyroid Surgery?
Removal of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) or half of the thyroid gland (hemi-thryoidectomy) is performed under a general anaesthetic through a transverse incision in the neck. In most circumstances, patients are observed overnight in hospital and discharged the following day with appropriate post-operative instructions and a follow-up appointment with Mr MacLeod scheduled in a week or so.
Although surgery on the thyroid gland is common, potential risks associated with the procedure include:
- Injury to the nerves to the larynx (Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve)
- Injury to the Parathyroid Glands
- General Anaesthetics risks
Mr MacLeod will discuss with you at length any recommended procedure, and will discuss the potential risks of surgery. You will have the opportunity to ask questions, and be well informed prior to making any decision regarding surgery.