Thyroidectomy (for Goitre)

Looking to find out how we can help with Thyroid problems?

You may have visited your GP already or maybe you're just concerned and are looking for some advice. We've got information below on what a Thyroid gland is and the treatments available and we are here to help should you wish to talk to somebody.

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is a structure in the neck that produces a hormone called thyroxine that regulates the body's metabolism. Thyroid goitre is where the thyroid gland becomes enlarged.

What are the benefits of thyroidectomy?

Removing the gland will improve the appearance of your neck. It will also prevent or cure breathing or swallowing difficulties.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

It may be possible to treat your condition with medication, such as thyroxine tablets.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes between an hour and a half and two hours. Your surgeon will make a cut in your neck in the line of one of your skin creases and remove most, or all, of the thyroid gland. (see figure 1).

Thyroidectomy for goitre 

What complications can happen?

General complications of any operation:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the surgical wound
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots

Specific complications of this operation:

  • Change in your voice
  • Drop in calcium levels
  • Drop in thyroid hormone levels
  • Breathing difficulties

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after one to two days. You should be able to return to work and normal activities after about two weeks. Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

A member of the healthcare team will ask you to go to a follow-up clinic. Your surgeon will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.

Paying for the operation

Thyroidectomy costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.


Thyroid goitre can cause an unsightly appearance, or affect your breathing or swallowing. Removing the thyroid gland is sometimes recommended to treat this condition.


Author: Mr Keith Rigg FRCS MD Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Copyright © 2008 EIDO Healthcare Limited The operation and treatment information on this website is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by BMI Healthcare. The intellectual property rights to the information belong exclusively to EIDO Healthcare Limited. You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Want to look at other treatments? or find it on the A-Z list.