Thyroidectomy (for nodule)
This webpage will give you information about a thyroidectomy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.
What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid gland is a structure in the neck that produces a hormone called thyroxine, which regulates the body’s metabolism. This gland can become abnormal and develop a lump (nodule).
What are the benefits of surgery?
You will no longer have the lump in your thyroid gland. If the lump is getting bigger, surgery may help to prevent an unsightly appearance and should improve any symptoms caused by the swelling.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
Surgery is important so that your doctor can be sure what is causing the lump.
What does the operation involve?
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about an hour.
Your surgeon will make a cut in your neck in the line of one of your skin creases and remove part, or all, of the thyroid gland (see figure 1).
Figure 1 - The thyroid gland from the front.
What complications can happen?
1 General complications
- Infection in the surgical site (wound)
- Unsightly scarring
- Blood clots
2 Specific complications
- Change in your voice
- Drop in calcium levels
- Drop in thyroid hormone levels
- Breathing difficulties
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home after one to two days.
You should be able to return to work and normal activities after about two weeks.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
A member of the healthcare team will ask you to go to a follow-up clinic. Your surgeon will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.
A thyroid lump can cause an unsightly appearance or discomfort, or affect your breathing or swallowing. A thyroidectomy to remove the lump should improve your symptoms and help find out what is causing the lump.
Author: Mr Keith Rigg FRCS MD
Illustrations: Hannah Ravenscroft RM
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.