A thyroidectomy is a full or partial removal of the thyroid. This is a gland in the neck that makes hormones that help the body turn food into energy.
This surgery may be done to remove:
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep.
An incision will be made in the front of the neck. All or part of the thyroid gland will be removed. Lymph nodes may also be removed. The incision will be closed with stitches. A drainage tube may be inserted to allow fluids to leave the site.
This surgery may also be done using small incisions and specialized tools.
About 2 to 4 hours
Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.
The usual length of stay is 1 day. You may need to stay longer if you have problems.
The staff may give you pain medicines.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
It will take about 2 weeks to recover. Neck pain and a hoarse voice are common. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You will need to delay return to work.
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
National Cancer Institute
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Graves disease in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/graves-disease-in-adults. Accessed December 9, 2020.
Q & A: Thyroidectomy. American Thyroid Association website. Available at: http://www.thyroid.org/patient-thyroid-information/what-are-thyroid-problems/q-and-a-thyroidectomy. Accessed December 9, 2020.
Smith TJ, Hegedüs L. Graves' Disease. N Engl J Med. 2016 Oct 20;375(16):1552-1565.
Thyroidectomy. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: https://www.cedars-sinai.org/programs/cancer/we-treat/head-and-neck/treatments/thyroidectomy.html. Accessed December 9, 2020.
Thyroidectomy. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments_and_procedures/hic_Parathyroid_Surgery/hic-thyroidectomy. Accessed December 9, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 4/23/2021