What is thyroid surgery?

The thyroid, which is the small gland located in the lower front area of the neck, produces hormones that help to regulate one's metabolism. In some cases, the thyroid produces an excess of hormones, or develops problems like cysts, nodules or swelling. Thyroid surgery is recommended when these types of issues occur, and involves the removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. Some of the most common reasons for thyroid surgery include nodules and tumours; hyperthyroidism; and swelling of the thyroid gland.

What does the procedure involve?

There are a number of thyroid surgery options, the most common of which are lobectomy; subtotal thyroidectomy; and total thyroidectomy. During lobectomy, only one of the thyroid lobes is removed. During a subtotal thyroidectomy, the thyroid gland is removed, but some thyroid tissue is left behind in order to preserve thyroid function.

A total thyroidectomy involves the removal of the entire thyroid gland and all of the thyroid tissue. This type of procedure is often necessary when the entire thyroid gland has been affected by inflammation, nodules, swelling, or cancer.

What can I expect after the procedure?

Recovery from the procedure is fairly quick. You should avoid strenuous exercise for around 10 days following surgery, but you should be able to get back to most of your usual activities within a day or two.

You may feel some minor pain in your throat, which should subside within a few days. Dr Govender will prescribe pain medications if necessary.

What is parathyroid surgery?

The parathyroid glands are made up of four small, round pieces that are attached to the back of the thyroid gland. The glands help to regulate the calcium levels in the blood. The removal of the parathyroid glands, also known as parathyroidectomy, is sometimes necessary when there is too much calcium in the blood. An excess of calcium can lead to a condition known as hypercalcemia, which can lead to serious health problems like kidney failure; hypertension; and coronary artery disease.

Parathyroidectomy is also recommended for the treatment of benign adenomas; cancerous tumours on the glands; and a condition called parathyroid hyperplasia, in which the parathyroid glands are enlarged.