Your doctor may recommend that you consider thyroid surgery for 4 main reasons:
You have a nodule that might be thyroid cancer.
You have a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
You have a nodule or goiter that is causing local symptoms – compression of the trachea, difficulty swallowing or a visible or unsightly mass.
You have a nodule or goiter that is causing symptoms due to the production and release of excess thyroid hormone – either a toxic nodule, a toxic multinodular goiter or Graves’ disease.
The extent of your thyroid surgery should be discussed by you and your thyroid surgeon and can generally be classified as a partial thyroidectomy or a total thyroidectomy.
In the operating room, you will be in a semi-seated position, with or without your chin tilted back and with support under your neck and shoulders. Thyroidectomies are performed under general anesthesia, meaning you are asleep and pain-free during the procedure.
The surgeon makes a small incision in the skin of the neck as close to a natural crease as possible to reduce the appearance of the scar. The surgeon parts a thin layer of muscle to gain access to the thyroid gland, then removes one or both lobes of the thyroid gland as well as any nearby lymph nodes that may be affected by disease.
The surgeon then returns the muscles of the front of the neck to their proper position and secures them in place. The skin is closed with sutures or glue.