The thyroid gland is an important endocrine organ that makes a hormone called thyroid hormone.  Thyroid hormone works on virtually every organ system of the body including general metabolism, cardiac function, digestive function, muscle function, bone formation and remodeling, and brain development.  The thyroid gland is located in the central portion of the neck and sits just on top of the windpipe known as the trachea.  

There are many illnesses that may present as a result of abnormalities of the thyroid gland.  By far and away, the most common problem with the thyroid gland is the inability of the gland to make enough thyroid hormone resulting in hypothyroidism.  People will often have problems with metabolism, heat/cold tolerance, weight fluctuations or weight gain.  In this situation people require supplementation of thyroid hormone in the way of a pill.  

We perform surgery on the thyroid gland for benign or malignant reasons.  The most common cause for operation on the thyroid gland is for thyroid nodules that are suspicious for or confirmed as thyroid cancer.  This condition requires removal of a portion or all of the thyroid gland.  

Thyroid Pathology includes:

  • Benign
    • ​Symptomatic thyroid nodules
    • Symptomatic thyroid goiters
    • Substernal thyroid goiters (thyroid gland grows into the chest)
    • Graves' disease
    • Toxic multinodular goiters
  • Malignant
    • ​Nondiagnoistic or indeterminate thyroid nodules
    • Differentiated thyroid cancers
      • papillary thyroid cancer
      • follicular thyroid cancer
      • medullary thyroid cancer
    • Anaplastic thyroid cancer

Thyroid surgery requires either partial or total thyroidectomy (removal of thyroid).  An incision is made within the central neck.  Once dissection is carried down through the muscle layers the thyroid gland is removed from its vascular and tissue attachments.  It is taken off the trachea as well.  While performing the thyroidectomy we have to identify the parathyroid glands and recurrent laryngeal nerve.  These are important structures involved in controlling blood calcium levels and supplying energy to the vocal cords, respectively.  Temporary or permanent injury to these structures could result in low blood calcium levels or hoarseness of voice.  

For more information regarding thyroid pathology and surgery please visit the thyroid resources at the following site:

Endocrine Disorders