Thyroid Lobectomy

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What is the Thyroid Gland?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland which is found on the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple.

It produces hormones which play a major role in regulating the body’s metabolism.

Abnormal conditions of the Thyroid

These include:

  • A localised enlargement (nodule)
  • An overall enlargement (goitre)
  • The production of too much hormone (hyperthyroidism)
  • The production of not enough hormone (hypothyroidism)
  • Inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis)

Most thyroid conditions can be treated with medication, but if there is a suspicion of cancer or the enlargement is causing difficulties with breathing or swallowing, then surgery may be required.

Thyroid Lobectomy (Hemi-thyroidectomy)

This operation involves removing half of the thyroid gland. It is sometimes called a “diagnostic lobectomy” because the preoperative diagnosis may be uncertain and part of the reason for the operation is to find out if a lump in the thyroid gland is cancerous.

Potential risks

  • Bleeding – there may be some bleeding from the surgical site, but is seldom serious enough to require a return to the operating theatre.
  • Scar – This shrinks and fades over time.
  • Damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (the nerve that supplies the voice box) – resulting in a hoarse voice. This may be temporary or permanent.
  • Neck numbness – this is due to the local anaesthetic used and/or superficial (sensory) nerves that have been cut. This numbness can take a few weeks to improve.

After your operation

You will stay in hospital overnight. You may have a small drain in the neck, which should be removed the next day.

You will be advised when the stitches need to be removed (usually with the practice nurse at your GP surgery).

You will need to keep the wound dry for at least 5 days. If you have any concerns about your wound, please use the contact numbers provided or, seek advice from your GP.

You will need to be off work/school for 2 weeks.

You should avoid rigorous activities or heavy lifting for 2-4 weeks after surgery.

Follow up

After your discharge from hospital you will receive an appointment to attend the ENT outpatient clinic. At this appointment, your wound will be checked and your results will be discussed with you. If there is any further surgery recommended, you will be advised of this and provided with additional information.