Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery MBChB (UCT).
Fellow of South African College of Surgeons
Diploma in Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Thyroidectomy & Thyroid Lobectomy
WHAT IS A Thyroidectomy & Thyroid Lobectomy?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that rests below your Adam's apple. This gland comprises two lobes and is filled with blood vessels. The thyroid secretes several hormones, but thyroxine is its primary hormone. These hormones control body temperature, weight, metabolism and the body’s overall development.
Why do I need a thyroidectomy?
Thyroid surgery is needed for diseases or cancer of the thyroid gland. Conditions that may require surgery include:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune illness. Hypothyroidism arises from this autoimmune disorder, and as a result, the body doesn't produce enough hormones. Researchers link the disease to genetics, hormones and excessive exposure to radiation and iodine. A thyroidectomy becomes necessary when large goitres form, and it becomes challenging to breathe or swallow.
- Thyroid cancer: Thyroid cancer arises from cell mutations. Once these cells start to multiply at an increased rate, they accumulate to form a tumour. Papillary thyroid cancer is widespread cancer that progressively spreads to the lymph nodes in the neck. Although papillary thyroid cancer is prevalent, the recovery rate remains high. Follicular thyroid cancer is not as common but primarily spreads to nearby blood vessels. Medullary thyroid cancer forms from a different type of cell in the thyroid gland and can be hereditary. Its management is complicated and almost always involves extensive thyroid surgery. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a severe, deadly form of thyroid cancer. It's aggressive in its spread to other parts of the body and remains challenging to resolve. Thyroid surgery remains the only option in the treatment of thyroid cancer.
Treatment of thyroid cancers depends on the severity and spread of the disease. The thyroid surgeon will either remove the entire thyroid gland or some of it, as well as affected nearby tissue and the neck's lymph nodes. Other treatment options include radioactive iodine ablation, radiation therapy or hormonal therapies.
Why do I need a thyroid lobectomy?
A thyroid lobectomy is the partial removal of the thyroid gland and is required for cancerous nodules or other growths. After the removal of a portion of the thyroid gland, there’s usually no particular need for hormonal therapy.
As a thyroid surgeon, Dr Mitchell diagnoses nodules from ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs. To diagnose hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, the doctor conducts a thyroid scan or a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test. Cells from the nodules are extracted for biopsy to check for signs of cancer.
Usually, the doctor orders blood tests to check for thyroid disease. A blood test measures the levels of hormones in the body. Blood tests detect thyroid illnesses such as Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer.
A total thyroidectomy involves the removal of the entire thyroid gland through a small incision in the neck. Thyroid tissue and nearby affected lymph glands in the neck are also removed to prevent the spread of cancer.
After thyroid surgery, you can resume regular activities, but strenuous exercise must be avoided until you’ve fully recovered. After the extraction of the thyroid gland, you will most likely develop hypothyroidism. Dr Mitchell prescribes hormone medication to combat the effects of hypothyroidism.
Please note: The information provided above and on this website is for education and interest purposes only. It is not intended to replace a personal one-on-one consultation, nor is it meant to substitute professional medical advice, diagnose or treat any condition. A consultation with a specialist and qualified health care provider such as Dr Mitchell is essential for correct diagnosis and management, as well as to answer any queries that you may have. Never disregard or delay in seeking professional medical advice due to something you have read on this website. Dr Mitchell takes no responsibility for any errors or omissions present on this website and is not liable for any consequences that may occur from misinterpretation of the information on this website. In the event of uncertainty or an emergency, please visit your nearest casualty.