Minimal Access Thyroidectomy
Minimal access thyroid surgical techniques allow removal of part of the thyroid gland through a mini-incision approach. This approach may be used for patients who require a hemithyroidectomy, thyroid isthmusectomy or local thyroid nodule excision. Minimal access thyroid surgery is not suitable for patients who have; a family history of thyroid cancer, biopsy proven thyroid cancer, those who have received previous head and neck irradiation, significant thyroiditis, multinodular goitre and a large thyroid nodule (>3cm). Minimal access thyroid surgery is a safe alternative to open thyroid surgery for selected patients and the following information. The following advice sheet will help you plan for a comfortable recovery period after minimal access thyroid surgery, to encourage rapid, uneventful healing.
Wound care after thyroid surgery
Your wound will be covered with a Steri-Strip, which should be left in place for about 2 weeks until your first postoperative visit – you may notice some dried blood under the tape but that is of no concern. You can wash and shower with the Steri-Strip in place and even get it wet. Once removed, the Steri-Strip may need to be replaced and you will then need to change it every 2 or 3 days for the next 2 to 3 months in order to get the best possible cosmetic result. The preferred tape is narrow, flesh coloured Micropore which can be obtained from your chemist.
Activities and exercise after thyroid surgery
You should generally restrict activities for 1 or 2 weeks after surgery. Activities, which involve turning the head suddenly, such as driving in heavy traffic, should be avoided. Commonsense is the best way to avoid straining your neck.
Throat symptoms after thyroid removal surgery
- A variety of local symptoms are common for several weeks after thyroid removal surgery including neck tightness, or difficulty with eating and drinking
- Headaches and tiredness are also common as is weakness of the voice with prolonged use
- Swelling of the neck around the wound is also common and may benefit from daily massage with Vitamin E or Sorbolene cream
- Numbness of the skin above the wound may be present and may last for many months after thyroid surgery
Complications after thyroid surgery
The main complication of concern is wound infection. Signs that this may have developed include the wound becoming very red, hot and more swollen. If that occurs you must seek attention from your local doctor straight away who will arrange for you to have antibiotics.
After thyroid surgery -Minimal Access Thyroid surgery follow-up
Generally your follow-up will consist of:
- A visit to your surgeon at 2 to 3 weeks to have the tape removed – you will need to ring the office to make an appointment for that visit
- Α final surgical check up at 3 months
- If you have been placed on calcium supplements, you may need to be seen by your local doctor on a weekly basis to have a blood test to check your calcium level, and to have your calcium supplements progressively reduced
- You will also need to be reviewed by your local doctor or endocrinologist at around 6 weeks and have thyroid function tests to check the function of your remaining thyroid
- Your local doctor or endocrinologist may need to see you more frequently for specific review if there are any problems
Calcium supplements after thyroid surgery
A temporary drop in calcium levels may occasionally occur even after minimal access thyroid surgery. The calcium level is checked in hospital and if it is low, you will be sent home on calcium supplements (Caltrate). You will then need to see your local doctor every week to have the calcium levels checked. If the calcium level in the blood is normal, then the dose needs to be reduced.
If you have any questions or concerns following your minimal access thyroidectomy, you should speak to your local doctor, who will arrange to contact your thyroid surgeon.