Why would I need a thyroidectomy?
Your thyroid gland is at the base of your neck, in front of your windpipe. The thyroid is an endocrine gland, which secretes hormones into your bloodstream. These control your whole metabolism and set the speed at which all your body’s processes work. When something goes wrong with your thyroid, your whole system gets out of balance.
You may be advised to have a thyroidectomy if you have:
An overactive thyroid gland. This leads to hyperthyroidism, a condition where your thyroid gland is producing too much hormone
An enlarged thyroid gland
Cancer of your thyroid gland
A cyst or non-cancerous lump on your thyroid gland
What happens during a thyroidectomy?
In most cases, a thyroidectomy removes the entire thyroid gland but it is possible to remove only a part of it to relieve your symptoms. The operation usually takes about two hours. A thyroidectomy is performed under general anaesthetic, which means you will be asleep throughout. Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, the surgeon will make a cut into your lower neck. If you already have a crease in your lower neck, the cut will be made there for cosmetic reasons. Your surgeon will remove all or part of your thyroid gland. Once the thyroidectomy is complete, the cut will be closed with stitches or surgical clips.
What happens after a thyroidectomy?
Your private room will be well equipped and you will have a drip providing you with fluids, probably going into a vein in the back of your hand. You may have a fine tube running from the thyroidectomy wound when you first wake up after the operation. You may also have a catheter to drain urine from your bladder into a bag. These will usually all be removed the next morning, or within 24 hours.
You are bound to have some pain and stiffness in your neck after your thyroidectomy. Let your surgeon or a nurse know if you're in a lot of pain and they will give you some painkillers. Private hospitals usually have very good visiting hours and you will be able to see your friends and family as soon as you feel up to it.