Thyroidectomy (for Goitre)
This webpage will give you information about a thyroidectomy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.
What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a structure in the neck that produces a hormone called thyroxine, which regulates the body’s metabolism. This gland can become enlarged (thyroid goitre).
What are the benefits of surgery?
Removing the gland will improve the appearance of your neck. It will also prevent or cure breathing or swallowing difficulties.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
It may be possible to treat your condition with medication, such as thyroxine tablets.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes between an hour and a half and two hours.
Your surgeon will make a cut in your neck in the line of one of your skin creases and remove most, or all, of the thyroid gland (see figure 1).
Figure 1 - The thyroid gland from the front.
What complications can happen?
1 General complications
- Infection in the surgical site (wound)
- Unsightly scarring
- Blood clots
2 Specific complications
- Change in your voice
- Drop in calcium levels
- Drop in thyroid hormone levels
- Breathing difficulties
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home after one to two days.
You should be able to return to work and normal activities after about two weeks.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice
A member of the healthcare team will ask you to go to a follow-up clinic. Your surgeon will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.
Thyroid goitre can cause an unsightly appearance, or affect your breathing or swallowing. Removing the thyroid gland is sometimes recommended to treat this condition.
Author: Mr Keith Rigg FRCS MD
Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.