If your doctor has found a lump in your thyroid gland, most of the time it can be removed.
What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a structure in your neck that produces a hormone called thyroxine, which regulates your body's metabolism. There is a possibility that your thyroid gland has become abnormal and a lump (nodule) has developed.
What are the benefits of surgery?
You will no longer have the lump in your thyroid gland. If the lump is getting larger, surgery may help to prevent an unsightly appearance and should improve any symptoms caused by the swelling.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Surgery is recommended so that your doctor can be sure about what is causing the lump. There is no sure way of knowing the cause of the lump without surgery, and so it would be a risk to leave it untreated in case it is a cancer.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about an hour. Your surgeon will make a cut on your neck in the line of one of your skin creases. Your surgeon will remove part, or all, of the thyroid gland.
What complications can happen?
Like all surgical procedures, there are some levels of risks to consider. Some of these can be serious and can even cause death. However, you can speak to your doctor about the following general and specific complications that may worry you.
General complications of any operation
- Infection of the surgical site (wound)
- Unsightly scarring of your skin
- Blood clot in your leg
- Blood clot in your lung
Specific complications of this operation
- Change in your voice
- Drop in calcium levels in your blood
- Thyroid hormone levels in your blood may drop
- Breathing difficulties
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home after 1 to 2 days, and you should be able to return to work and normal activities after about 2 weeks. This will depend on how much surgery you need and your type of work.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice. Most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities. The healthcare team will usually arrange for you to come back to the clinic within 4 weeks. Your surgeon will tell you the results and discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.
A thyroid lump can cause an unsightly appearance, discomfort, or even affect your breathing and/or swallowing. A thyroidectomy to remove the lump should improve your symptoms and help find out what is causing the lump. To find out more, call us on 0808 101 0337.
Author: Mr Keith Rigg FRCS MD
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