Doctor taking blood pressure of patient.

Thyroid Surgery

At Providence, our endocrinologists, radiologists and endocrine surgeons work in partnership to advance your endocrine health. For procedures like thyroid surgery, we ensure our patients receive their treatment as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Thyroid surgery is the partial (and in some cases complete) removal of thyroid tissue.

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland right above your breastbone. This gland releases Thyroxine, an important hormone that helps regulate your metabolism by controlling your heart rate and glucose usage.

During a medical exam, it’s possible for your doctor to find lumps within your thyroid. These lumps, known as nodules, are relatively harmless, but sometimes can grow abnormally. These abnormal growths can press down on your esophagus and trachea, causing shortness of breath and difficulty swallowing.

Thyroid nodules can also affect the gland’s production of thyroxine (hyperthyroidism), causing an irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness and anxiety.

For the most part, nodules and goiters can be treated with medication or radioiodine treatments. It is only when the growths become cancerous, or when they obstruct breathing and swallowing, that surgery is recommended.

Thyroid surgery is a routine, minimally invasive procedure that uses general anesthesia and can take anywhere between one and five hours. As is the process for all surgeries under general anesthesia, an IV will be placed while you are awake, and when asleep from the anesthesia, a breathing tube will be inserted once through your mouth to assist with breathing.

During the procedure, your endocrine surgeon will make a minor horizontal incision in your neck, remove any damaged thyroid tissue, and then seal the incision with surgical tape. A nerve monitor is used throughout the procedure ensuring no damage is done to the laryngeal nerves that surround your thyroid.

Unless undergoing a total thyroidectomy, patients usually go home the same day after a few hours of monitoring. After surgery, you will have to take a thyroid hormone replacement once a day for the rest of your life.

Thanks to advanced research in minimally invasive procedures, our patients experience better long-term outcomes post-operation. Still, some risks and complications may arise. Some patients may experience a sore throat and hoarseness after thyroid surgery. This discomfort usually goes away after 7-14 days. Other possible side effects include hematoma, obstruction of airways or an infection of the surgical wound.