North Austin

Thyroid & Parathyroid Surgery

The board-certified ENT physicians at Austin ENT & Allergy are expertly trained in the diagnosis, treatment, and surgical options for thyroid and parathyroid disorders.

What Is Thyroid And Parathyroid Surgery?

The thyroid gland, situated in the neck, plays a vital role in producing hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. Imbalances in hormone levels, either excessive or insufficient, can result in significant medical complications. Typically, the management of hormone levels is overseen by a primary care physician or an endocrinologist. Additionally, the thyroid gland can experience enlargement, develop nodules, or even harbor cancerous lesions. In such cases, thyroid surgery may be considered as a treatment option.

Thyroid Gland Removal
Surgery may be necessary when thyroid cancer has been detected or suspected, or an otherwise benign thyroid nodule grows so large it causes problems with swallowing or breathing, and even in some cases where hyperthyroidism (a disorder in which excess thyroid hormone is produced) does not respond to treatment with medications or radioactive iodine.

Thyroid surgery is known as a thyroidectomy. Typical procedures performed include a total thyroidectomy to remove the entire gland or thyroid lobectomy to remove half of the gland.

After total thyroidectomy, lifetime thyroid hormone replacement will be necessary.

Effectiveness of Thyroid Surgery
The effectiveness of any surgical thyroid procedure depends on the type of cancer present and how much it has spread.

Overall, the surgery is considered safe, but may lead to complications that include injury to the vocal cords and larynx (which could cause hoarseness, changes in the voice, and problems speaking or swallowing), injury to the parathyroid glands (which could cause hypoparathyroidism, a separate condition in which too little parathyroid hormone is produced), difficulty breathing, and the usual risks associated with most surgical procedures (bleeding and infection).

Why Is Thyroid And Parathyroid Surgery Performed?

The parathyroids are typically four glands near the thyroid gland that are critical for calcium metabolism. When the glands produce an over abundance of parathyroid hormone, the result is too much calcium, a condition known as hyperparathyroidism. This is often caused by an adenoma, a type of benign tumor. Minor cases may be dealt with medically, but parathyroid surgery is often recommended.

Whether to proceed with parathyroid surgery depends on a number of factors including how much calcium is in the blood and the extent of symptoms. Once the diagnosis is made, imaging tests will typically be performed to try to localize the source of the problem.

Surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia, and frequently, patients can go home the day of surgery. Refer to your post-op instructions provided by our care team for further information.

What Is Ultrasound Guided FNA?

When nodules are discovered in the thyroid, it is crucial for your doctor to identify the underlying cause in order to propose an appropriate treatment approach. Typically, the initial step involves obtaining an ultrasound to assess the nodules. Based on the appearance of the nodules on the ultrasound, a biopsy may be recommended.

In contrast to traditional surgical biopsies, ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies are a less invasive option that can often be performed in the doctor’s office. This procedure utilizes sound waves to precisely locate any abnormalities within the thyroid. A hollow needle is then employed to extract a small tissue sample, which is subsequently examined under a microscope for further analysis.

How Do I prepare for an Ultrasound Guided FNA?

Prior to the procedure, your doctor will provide you with specific instructions to follow. While most medications can typically be continued, you may be advised to temporarily discontinue the use of anticoagulants or blood thinners, as they can heighten the risk of bleeding. 

In general, most patients can resume their normal activities immediately after the procedure. You may experience soreness or tenderness at the biopsy site for approximately one to two days. Over-the-counter pain medication can be taken to alleviate any discomfort.

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