What do I need to know about this procedure?

Thyroid surgery is where part or all the thyroid gland/s is removed through a cut along the “necklace” line of the neck.

My anaesthetic

This procedure will require anaesthetic.

What are the risks of this specific procedure?

There are risks and complications with this procedure.
They include but are not limited to the following:

General risks:

  • Infection can occur, requiring antibiotics and further treatment.
  • Bleeding could occur and may require a return to the operating room. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Asprin, Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover) or Dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin).
  • Small areas of the lung can collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy.
  • Increased risk in obese people of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and thrombosis.
  • Heart attack or stroke could occur due to the strain on the heart.
  • Blood clot in the leg (DVT) causing pain and swelling. In rare cases, part of the clot may break off and go to the lungs.
  • Death as a result of this procedure is possible.

Specific risks:

  • Possible bleeding in the tissues of the neck which may result in swelling about the wound or a fluid discharge, or on rare occasions, pressure in the wind pipe which may cause breathing problems. This may require emergency surgery.
  • Rarely an important nerve in the area of the back of the thyroid may be damaged which could result in a permanent hoarse voice, or difficulty with the higher pitch of the voice. It is very common to have a temporary hoarse voice for a few days as this operation is near the larynx. If both of these nerves were damaged, severe breathing difficulty may occur with the need for respiratory support. This may be permanent.
  • Rarely a small gland behind the thyroid, called the parathyroid, may be damaged and this may result in tingling of the fingers and spasms of the hands and toes. This is usually a temporary problem but occasionally long term calcium supplements are necessary.
  • After removal of part of the gland the function of the thyroid may decrease and you may need a thyroid function test and possible treatment for under activity of the thyroid. With total removal of the gland, lifelong medication is required.
  • In some people healing of the wound can become thickened, red and painful (a keloid scar).