Thyroidectomy - Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Thyroidectomy

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the anterior neck. It is responsible for the body’s metabolic function by means of releasing T4 and T3 hormones into the bloodstream; these are the hormones that act at the cellular level. The main reason for removing the thyroid gland is thyroid cancer. Usually the cancer is confirmed via a fine needle aspiration of a thyroid nodule. When the cancer is confirmed, the thyroidectomy is scheduled. There are a wide variety of thyroid cancers one can have.

Besides malignancies, the thyroidectomy can be performed if a patient has a symptomatic mass or goiter that causes dysphagia, dyspnea, shortness of breath, or hoarseness because of an enlarged thyroid gland. These patients can have a thyroidectomy to control symptoms. Sometimes a person can have a thyroid gland removed due to the aesthetics of having a large thyroid gland.

Contraindications of a thyroidectomy include having uncontrolled severe elevated thyroid function such as is seen in Grave’s disease. Another contraindication is pregnancy unless the malignancy is severe. Most doctors would prefer that the patient wait until after delivery.

A normal thyroid gland consists of two lateral lobes connected by a central isthmus. Half of all people have a pyramidal lobe. The thyroid is a very vascular structure with vessels coming and going from it superiorly and inferiorly. Buried within the thyroid gland are four parathyroid glands that control phosphorus and calcium concentrations in the body. About 3-6 percent of people have fewer than four parathyroid glands.

When the thyroid gland is removed, it can be completely or partially removed. They type of thyroidectomy you have depends on the reason you are having it for. A total thyroidectomy is done for malignancies of the gland. A subtotal or partial thyroidectomy removes only a portion of the gland and is done for non-cancerous reasons.

A thyroidectomy is done under general anesthesia in most cases and under local anesthesia in rare cases. The doctor makes a 3-4 inch incision in the middle of the neck and the thyroid gland is removed through the incision. A catheter can be placed in the incision to help fluids drain after the procedure. The drain is removed after 1-2 days, depending on the amount of drainage. The incision is closed with sutures. It can take up to four hours to remove the entire thyroid gland or less time if a part of the thyroid is removed.

The thyroid gland is removed for the following reasons:

  • A dangerously overactive thyroid gland
  • Cancer of the thyroid gland
  • A nodule or cyst on the thyroid gland
  • Benign tumors of the thyroid in which there are symptoms
  • Nontoxic goiter that makes it difficult to breathe or swallow

You can have the thyroid removed for an overactive gland that you don’t want to have treated with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medications.

Risks of having a thyroidectomy include:

  • Having problems breathing
  • Having a reaction to the medications given in surgery
  • Bleeding complications
  • Postoperative infection
  • Damage to your vocal cord nerves or to the nerves of the larynx
  • Postoperative difficulty breathing. This is an unusual side effect that usually disappears within weeks or months of having the surgery.
  • You can get bleeding and possible obstruction of the airway.
  • You can get a sharp increase in the levels of thyroid hormone around the time of surgery.
  • You can injury your parathyroid glands near the thyroid gland or damage their blood supply. This can cause a temporary lowering of the amount of calcium in your bloodstream.
  • You can suffer from a sudden thyroid storm. This is an increase in thyroid hormone levels that can be dangerous if not treated with special medications.

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