Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located at the lower front part of the neck. It is responsible for producing hormones that are transferred to organs throughout one's body by their blood. The parathyroid is made up of four small, round pieces attached to the back of the thyroid gland. These glands are part of the endocrine system responsible for regulating one's body function, metabolism, and mood, among other things. In particular, the parathyroid glands regulate the amount of calcium in one's blood.
What is Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery?
In some people, the thyroid produces too many hormones or experiences structural problems, such as swelling or cysts. While most cysts are benign, some can be cancerous or grow large enough to obstruct one's throat. When one or more of these problems occur, thyroid surgery may be necessary to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, also known as a thyroidectomy.
Similarly, parathyroid glands can sometimes release too much calcium into a person's bloodstream, a condition known as hypercalcemia. When this takes place, parathyroid surgery may be required to remove one or more of the parathyroid glands.
How to Prepare for Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery
Before your thyroid or parathyroid surgery, your doctors will ask you to stop taking medications that can interfere with your blood's ability to clot, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. You may also be required to fast after midnight the night before your surgery.
What Can You Expect?
Your thyroid or parathyroid surgery will take place in the hospital. After checking in, you'll put on a hospital gown and a nurse will insert an IV in your hand or arm to administer fluids and medication during surgery. Before surgery, you'll meet with your surgeon and anesthesiologist to discuss what will take place, as well as answer any questions you may have. Once you're put to sleep, the doctor will remove your thyroid or parathyroid through an incision on your neck. The surgery usually lasts around two hours.
What is Recovery After Thryoid and Parathyroid Surgery Like?
After you wake up, you can expect to recover in the hospital for 24-48 hours. Your throat will likely be sore for a few days, but you should be able to resume normal activities a day or two after surgery. It's common for patients to experience hypothyroidism after surgery, depending on how much of your thyroid was removed. If this occurs, your doctor will prescribe levothyroxine to balance out your hormone levels.