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Thyroid lobectomy or total thyroidectomy


A thyroid lobectomy involves the removal of half of the thyroid gland. This is most often performed for a suspicious thyroid nodule, but is also carried out if one side of the thyroid is compressing adjacent structures. The surgery is conducted under a general anaesthetic and involves an incision in the neck. The incision is usually hidden in a skin crease to reduce the impact of scarring. The thyroid lobe is delicately dissected off the nerve to the voice box (recurrent laryngeal nerve) and the calcium (parathyroid) glands and removed.


A total thyroidectomy involves complete removal of the thyroid gland, and is performed for compressive symptoms, Graves disease, or thyroid cancer. Similar to thyroid lobectomy, the incision is disguised in a normal skin crease of the neck to reduce scarring. Great care is taken to preserve the calcium (parathyroid) glands and the nerves to the voice box (recurrent laryngeal nerves).


Both thyroid lobectomy and total thyroidectomy require an overnight stay in hospital. After total thyroidectomy, a blood test is performed to check calcium levels, and patients are usually discharged the day after surgery. The stitches used during surgery are all dissolvable, so do not need to be removed. Patients will be reviewed in clinic 2-3 weeks after surgery to discuss the pathology results.

Further information on thyroid surgery from ENT UK is available here.

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