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Thyroid Surgery

Dr Chambers specialises in surgery for the Thyroid gland. 

The Thyroid gland is located in the lower neck.  Its role is to produce Thyroid Hormone which is involved in the control of the body’s energy levels.

The following thyroid gland conditions may require surgery:

  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid tumours
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Multinodular goitre (enlarged thyroid)
  • Graves’ disease

Surgery of the thyroid gland may require removal of the entire gland (Total Thyroidectomy), or half of the thyroid gland (Thyroid lobectomy).

All surgery of the thyroid gland demands precision to reduce the risks of complications. 

The main risk from surgery on the thyroid is injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerve.  This small nerve is located just behind the thyroid gland lobes on each side of the neck.  This important nerve controls the muscles of the voice box.  Injury to this nerve during surgery can result in a permanent change to the voice, making it sound hoarse (rough) and soft.  Thyroid surgery involves identifying these nerves and protecting them from injury. 

Dr Chambers routinely uses the NIM™ monitoring system during all thyroid surgery procedures.  This system monitors the function of the recurrent laryngeal nerves during the surgery to help identify these nerves and prevent any injury or damage.

The other major risk from thyroid surgery is low calcium levels in the bloodstream due to injury to the parathyroid glands.  These small glands are separate from the thyroid gland, but are located very close by.  There are four parathyroid glands, two on each side of the neck.  They produce the hormone Parathyroid Hormone (PTH).  This hormone maintains a normal calcium level in the bloodstream. 

If all four of the Parathyroid glands are injured during thyroid surgery, the calcium level in the bloodstream can fall.  This requires the patient to take calcium tablets regularly to avoid serious complications.  In most cases the injured parathyroid glands will eventually recover from the injury and the calcium levels return to normal.  In a small percentage of cases the injury to the parathyroid glands is permanent, and the patient needs to stay on regular calcium tablets indefinitely. 

It is very important that the surgeon preserves the parathyroid glands when removing the thyroid gland to prevent this serious complication. 

Thyroid gland assessment

The following tests will generally be required as part of the assessment for thyroid surgery:

  • Blood tests
  • Thyroid ultrasound scan
  • Fine needle biopsy of any suspicious thyroid nodules or lumps

Our office can arrange for any tests required prior to the initial consultation with the patient.