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.
How Long Will It Take?
About 2 to 4 hours
Will It Hurt?
Pain and swelling are common in the first 1 to 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.
Average Hospital Stay
The usual length of stay is 1 day. You may need to stay longer if you have problems.
At the Hospital
The staff may give you pain medicines.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
Washing their hands
Wearing gloves or masks
Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
Not letting others touch your incisions
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
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
Redness, swelling, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision
Pain that you cannot control with medicine
Lasting nausea or vomiting
Felt very tired
Twitching or muscle spasms
Numbness or tingling around the hands, feet, or lips
Problems swallowing, talking, or breathing
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
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
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