Thyroid & Parathyroid Surgery
The thyroid gland covers the front of the trachea (windpipe) at the base of the neck. It produces and releases hormones that control the body’s metabolic rate.
An excess of thyroid hormone production is called hyperthyroidism. A hyperthyroid patient may experience sweating; heart palpitations; rapid heart beat; muscle weakness; nervousness; and intolerance to warm temperatures.
Graves’ Disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism. The treatment of Grave’s disease is usually medication that inhibits production of thyroid hormone, or radioactive iodine is given to reduce thyroid function. Some patients with Grave’s disease may require surgery to remove the thyroid.
A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland that results form overgrowth. Most goiters are asymptomatic, but some can cause difficulty with swallowing or with breathing. A symptomatic goiter is usually removed surgically.
In the diagram, the mass in the lower left hand side portrays a thyroid nodule. In most cases, there is no noticeable enlargement of the thyroid and the patient is asymptomatic. Therefore, they are usually discovered during a routine physical exam. Even though most thyroid nodules are benign, a fine needle biopsy should be performed to rule out cancer.
There are a variety of thyroid cancers and they vary in how aggressively they behave. A patient with thyroid cancer or a nodule that is suspicious for cancer requires surgery for treatment.
Many thyroid surgeries require removal of only part of the gland. A person who undergoes surgery that leaves normal thyroid behind may have normal thyroid function. Other patients with more extensive surgery may require thyroid supplementation.
The red ovals in the illustration represent the parathyroid glands. They are found behind the thyroid gland and are usually four in number. The parathyroid glands produce hormones that help control calcium balance.
When the parathyroid glands are hyperactive the blood calcium levels become too high. This is known as hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism can be a cause for kidney stones, weak bones, pancreatitis and even psychiatric problems. The treatment for this disease is the surgical removal of the offending parathyroid gland or glands. Some patients may require calcium supplements after surgery.
Rarely, hyperparathyroidism can result from cancer of the parathyroid gland. This cancer requires surgical removal of the cancerous parathyroid, as well as the thyroid tissue on the same side as the cancer.
For further information, you can ask Dr. Ferzli.