About thyroidectomy surgery
So you’re having difficulties with thyroid disease and your doctor has scheduled you for a thyroidectomy. It’s supposed to alleviate your symptoms and restore you to balance. But what exactly is this operation and what will it accomplish?
First, it’s essential to know just what the thyroid is and how it functions. Scattered throughout the body are several glands that make up the endocrine system. These organs produce hormones that impose balance on the body’s various internal systems, including growth and metabolism. The thyroid gland is one of these glands.
It’s shaped like a butterfly and it’s located at the bottom of the throat, underneath the Adam’s apple. It produces three critical hormones, one that prevents blood calcium levels from spiking and two others that regulate the body’s generation of proteins, its use of energy and its metabolism.
A thyroidectomy is a surgery used to fix damage or dysfunction of the thyroid. There are several forms this can take. Thyroid nodules and cancer are the most common reason for thyroid surgery. Though on the rise, this cancer is eminently treatable. Relative survival rates for thyroid cancer have increased in recent years in Australia. Between the periods 1982–1987 and 2006–2010, five-year relative survival increased from 84 per cent to 96 per cent.
Thyroid surgery may also be used to treat some forms of thyroiditis, an inflammation of the gland. Thyroid operations can be helpful in dealing with severe cases of hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that results when the thyroid is overstimulated and produces too much of its hormones, leading to problems with proteins, metabolism and energy. It can result in symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, weight loss, diarrhoea and sleep problems.
A thyroidectomy may be used to treat this condition. It may also be used to treat neck goitres and other abnormal growths on the thyroid.
Thyroid surgery is considered safe, routine and in most cases, highly effective. There are two main kinds: total thyroidectomy, in which the entire thyroid is removed, and partial, in which only a portion of the gland is removed. A total removal takes around an hour or two, while a partial usually takes less time than that.
Complications are possible. One of the most common that can occur is the development of a condition called hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid. It’s the polar opposite of hyperthyroidism, in the sense that the gland generates too little of its essential hormones. Hypothyroidism includes such symptoms as fatigue, weight gain and memory loss. Treatment is very effective and consists of thyroid hormone replacement pills taken on a daily basis.
If you have questions or concerns about thyroid problems or thyroidectomy, contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a thyroid surgeon.
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