The thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, produces thyroid hormone, which regulates all other hormones in the body. If too much thyroid hormone is produced, the condition is called hyperthyroidism. If this cannot be managed by medication, surgical intervention may be required. Other reasons for thyroid surgery include an enlarged thyroid, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Dry, brittle hair
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased appetite
- Frequent bowel movements
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Difficulty sleeping
Thyroid cancer symptoms:
- Lump in the neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain in neck and throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
Thyroidectomy may be required to remove your thyroid gland in cases of thyroid cancer or uncontrollable hyperthyroidism. All or part of the thyroid gland will be removed through an incision in the base of the neck.
Following a thyroidectomy, you will need to take thyroid replacement hormone (levothyroxine, commonly known as Synthroid) for the rest of your life. Radioactive iodine treatment may also be necessary after surgery to destroy any remaining thyroid tissue. After surgery, pain should be minimal. You may experience hoarseness and voice fatigue for a few months following surgery. Calcium supplementation may be necessary to avoid low calcium levels.
The parathyroid glands are four small glands on each corner of the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands regulate bodily calcium and phosphorous levels through the production of parathyroid hormone (PTH). If this hormone is overproduced (hyperparathyroidism), blood calcium becomes elevated while phosphorous levels drop. If too little is produced (hypoparathyroidism), the opposite occurs.
Symptoms associated with hyperparathyroidism:
- Kidney stones
- High blood pressure
- Peptic ulcers
- Increased thirst and urination
- Poor memory
Symptoms associated with hypoparathyroidism:
- Muscle cramps
- Twitching and convulsions
Parathyroid problems are often caused by a non-cancerous growth on one of the parathyroid glands. In most cases, only one of the four glands needs to be removed. If all four glands are enlarged and overproducing PTH, surgeons will usually leave a small piece of one gland, which can then regenerate.
Parathyroid surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure. You may have some bruising, pain with swallowing, hoarse voice, and neck pain following the surgery. You can resume normal activities after one week.
Adrenal glands are small triangular-shaped glands above the kidneys. Your adrenal glands produce important hormones the body needs to function properly (such as adrenaline, aldosterone, and cortisol). If a tumor develops on an adrenal gland, it can affect hormone production. Most adrenal tumors are benign, but approximately 10-15% are cancerous. Adrenal tumors may be asymptomatic and are most often identified during an unrelated abdominal x-ray.
- Headache, sweating, and heart palpitations
- Uncontrollable blood pressure
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure and low blood potassium
- Weakness, fatigue, and frequent urination (Conn Syndrome)
- Obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, menstrual irregularities, fragile skin, and stretch marks (Cushing Syndrome)
If tumors appear in the adrenal glands, surgery is performed to remove all or part of the glands. For laparoscopic adrenalectomy, four to five small incisions will be made into the side of your abdomen, and laparoscopic instruments will be used to extract the adrenal gland. For an open adrenalectomy, one long incision is made across the abdomen in order to remove the adrenal gland.
Most patients take 1 to 2 weeks to recover from the laparoscopic surgery and 5 to 6 weeks to recover from an open adrenalectomy.