- Thyroid surgery may be required when imaging (radiology) shows nodules with worrisome characteristics or nodules are noted to be increasing in size and changing in nature.
- It may also be necessary if needle aspiration is reported as suspicious for cancer.
- The trachea (windpipe) or the oesophagus (foodpipe) may be compressed because one or both lobes are very large.
- The lump in the neck (caused by the tumour/nodule) may be causing cosmetic embarrassment.
- Entire or nodule in gland is hyper functioning (Surgery is one of the options to cure this problem).
Thyroidectomy is an operation to remove part of/all of the thyroid gland. Typically, the operation removes the lobe of the gland containing the lump. General anaesthetic is required. The operation is performed through a discreet, horizontal cut over the lower neck line.
- Complications are very rare but may include bleeding, a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, and numbness of the skin on the neck, vocal cord paralysis, low blood thyroid hormone or calcium. (If the gland is very large, then the voice may be a little hoarse after the operation due to pulling on the nerves to the voice box. A very rare complication is damage to the vocal cord nerve resulting in permanent hoarseness.)
- Occasionally the wound swells due to a build-up of blood in the neck within 24hours after the operation. Rarely the wound needs to be re-examined in theatre.
- Rarely tingling in the fingers or the lips is felt after the operation due to an effect on the parathyroid glands in the neck.
- Chest infections may arise particularly in smokers.
- Wound infection is a rare problem and settles down with appropriate treatment. Aches and tinges may be felt in the wound for up to 6 months.
- Occasionally there may be numb patches in the skin around the wound, which usually improves after 2 to 3 months.
After your consultation:
- Obtain authorization from your medical aid and book your bed for your hospital admission.
- Carefully read through pre-operative information provided.
Day before surgery:
- Do not eat/drink after 22h00, the night before your surgery, unless otherwise specified by your surgeon or anaesthetist (you should be fasting for at least 6 hours before the procedure for solids but you are allowed to take clear liquids up to two hours before your procedure).
Day of surgery:
- Arrive for admission at indicated time on ‘Code & Consent’ sheet.
- Change into theatre attire, remove all valuable belongings.
Approximately 1-2 hours
Duration of hospital stay:
- 1-2 days (dependent on pain management, general state of patient and first bowel movement)
- Refrain from strenuous activities (incl. exercise) for at least 4 weeks post-operatively
Back to work:
- Sick leave required post-operatively is approximately 7-14 days
Some pain and discomfort post operatively may be expected following any operation, but the following measures are used to lessen the pain experienced:
- Warming devises in theatre as well as warm intravenous fluids.
- Intra-operative pain medication through the drip.
- Post-operative medication through the drip, please inform the nurses if you are in pain so that medication will be administered to you.
- As close to one week after discharge as possible. Please contact the rooms to schedule an appointment.