Q:

What should you expect if you are having a thyroidectomy?

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Quick Answer

During a thyroidectomy, the patient is typically unconscious while the surgical team monitors vital signs, such as heart rate, oxygen level and blood pressure, throughout the procedure, according to Mayo Clinic. The surgeon usually places a breathing tube in the patient’s trachea before making an incision in the neck to remove the thyroid gland and any lymph nodes, if necessary. After the surgery, the patient may have neck pain and a weak or hoarse voice.

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Depending on the reason for the surgery, a doctor may prescribe iodine treatments or thyroid medication up to two weeks before the procedure, states MedlinePlus. Technicians may also perform imaging tests and other diagnostic techniques to check for signs of cancerous growths. Within days of the surgery, patients usually receive instructions for regulating their diet and for restricting medications that hinder blood clotting.

The surgeon has multiple options for removing the thyroid, according to Mayo Clinic. The surgical incision is at the center of the neck in a traditional procedure, while an endoscopic thyroidectomy involves making smaller neck incisions and inserting a camera to oversee the procedure. In a robotic thyroidectomy, the surgeon makes the incision in the armpit or chest or at a high spot on the neck that is less visible than a traditional incision. The post-surgery hospital stay is usually at least 24 hours, and the patient can resume eating.

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