Thyroid nodules are lumps which arise in an otherwise normal thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is found in the neck and controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins and reacts with other hormones. Over 95 percent of all thyroid nodules are non-cancerous. Many nodules are actually cysts, which are filled with fluid rather than thyroid tissue. Although thyroid nodules can occasionally cause pain, most have no symptoms and are only found when a patient notices a lump in their throat. If the lump is suspected to be cancerous, a thyroid surgery can be performed to surgically remove the lump.
A thyroidectomy may also be performed when a large lump forms on the thyroid and constricts the surrounding structures of the neck, causing difficulty swallowing, pressure on the windpipe or the feeling of being strangled. Another reason for a patient to undergo a thyroidectomy is if a hyperactive thyroid nodule forms. In this case a single lump in the thyroid gland strongly overproduces thyroid hormone causing an overactive thyroid.
In a traditional thyroidectomy, the surgeon cuts a 3- to 5-inch incision across the base of the neck. An endoscopic thyroidectomy is often preferable to conventional thyroid surgery because it leaves little or no scarring on the neck and chest, and allows for a much shorter recovery time.
PROCEDURE: An endoscopic thyroidectomy is usually done under general anesthesia. During the procedure, a viewing instrument called an endoscope and small surgical instruments are inserted into the neck through several tiny incisions. The surgeon uses a tiny camera on the endoscope to guide the instruments and remove the thyroid tissue. At the end of the procedure, neck incisions are closed with stitches or surgical tape. An endoscopic thyroidectomy is sometimes performed with the entry point under the arm, called an axillary surgery.
SIDE EFFECTS: Possible side effects of an endoscopic thyroidectomy include bleeding beneath the neck wound, wound infection, injury to the laryngeal nerve which can cause damage to the vocal chord or breathing problems, and hypoparathyroidism. If the thyroid surgery is done to treat a very overactive gland, a thyroid storm may occur, in which there may be a surge of thyroid hormones into the blood.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Medical University of South Carolina