Total thyroidectomy; Partial thyroidectomy; Thyroidectomy; Subtotal thyroidectomy; Thyroid cancer - thyroidectomy; Papillary cancer - thyroidectomy; Goiter - thyroidectomy; Thyroid nodules - thyroidectomy
Thyroid gland removal is surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located inside the front of the lower neck.
Depending on the reason you are having your thyroid gland removed, the type of thyroidectomy you have will be either a:
You will have general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) for this surgery. In rare cases, the surgery is done with local anesthesia and medicine to relax you. You will be awake, but pain-free.
During the surgery:
Surgery to remove your whole thyroid may take up to 4 hours. It may take less time if only part of the thyroid is removed.
Your doctor may recommend thyroid removal if you have any of the following:
You may also have surgery if you have an overactive thyroid gland and do not want to have radioactive iodine treatment, or you cannot be treated with antithyroid medicines.
Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general include:
Risks of thyroidectomy include:
During the weeks before your surgery:
Several days to a week before surgery:
On the day of surgery:
You will probably go home the day after surgery. In rare cases, you may need to spend up to 3 days in the hospital. You must be able to swallow liquids before you can go home.
Your provider may check the calcium level in your blood after surgery. This is done more often when the whole thyroid gland is removed.
You may have some pain after surgery. Ask your provider for instructions on how to take pain medicines after you go home.
You will likely be able to get up and walk on the day after surgery. It should take about 3 to 4 weeks for you to fully recover.
Follow any instructions for taking care of yourself after you go home.
Outcome of this surgery is usually excellent. Most people need to take thyroid hormone pills (thyroid hormone replacement) for the rest of their lives when the whole gland is removed.
Kaplan EL, Angelos P, James BC, Nagar S, Grogan RH. Surgery of the thyroid. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, Giudice LC, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 96.
Smith PW, Salomone LJ, Hanks JB. Thyroid. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 38.
Last reviewed on: 2/27/2016
Reviewed by: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.