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Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid Surgery: Thyroid surgery is performed in the hospital and generally takes one of two forms. The first is the unilateral lobectomy, which usually includes the isthmus (the bridge between the two sides that runs superficial to the windpipe. A lobectomy would be done for a benign growth in one side of the gland. The other type of surgery is the near-total thyroidectomy (essentially the entire gland), and is generally done for thyroid cancer, severe bilateral enlargement of the gland or its nodules, or a severely overactive gland not controllable with medical therapy (Graves’ Disease).

Thyroid surgery is most commonly performed through a relatively short horizontal incision low in the front of the neck. Surgery is performed under general anesthesia, with a special breathing tube that allows for intraoperative monitoring of the laryngeal nerves. Bleeding is generally modest during surgery, and the incision is usually closed over suction drains to prevent the accumulation of blood or fluid within the surgical area. During surgery, the laryngeal nerves (that control vocal cord movement) and the parathyroid glands (that regulate blood calcium levels) are carefully identified and preserved.

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