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Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid Surgery Specialist

Medication is the first-line treatment for an underactive or overactive thyroid, but a goiter, thyroid nodules, and cancerous tumors must all be treated with thyroid surgery. Jacob Rinker, MD, FACS, at Wyoming Medical Associates provides risk assessment for your condition and expert surgical technique to remove the least amount of thyroid gland possible. For more information about thyroid surgery, call the office in Gillette or Casper, Wyoming, or schedule an appointment online.

Thyroid Surgery Q & A

What is thyroid surgery?

Thyroid surgery, called a thyroidectomy, is a procedure to remove all or part of the thyroid. Your surgeon at Wyoming Medical Associates evaluates the size, location, type of tumor, and the tumor’s stage (if it’s cancerous) to determine the best surgical approach. 

The surgeons at Wyoming Medical Associates have extensive experience performing minimally-invasive surgery and use this technique when possible. 

If open surgery is necessary to completely remove a thyroid tumor, the incision is only slightly larger than incisions used for minimally-invasive techniques. Additionally, incisions are made in natural skin creases to minimize the appearance of scarring.

What are symptoms of a condition that may need thyroid surgery?

Your thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate your metabolism and affect virtually every system in your body. A thyroid condition that needs surgery, such as a nodule, may affect hormone production and cause body-wide symptoms. 

However, when thyroid surgery may be required, you’ll experience symptoms such as:

  • Pain in your neck or throat
  • Enlarged thyroid (goiter) or swelling in your neck
  • Difficulty swallowing or a feeling of food stuck in your throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • Changes in your voice, including hoarseness

The team at Wyoming Medical Associates performs an evaluation to determine if your condition requires thyroid surgery. 

What conditions require thyroid surgery?

These thyroid conditions may need surgical intervention:

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is commonly treated with radioactive iodine, but in cases where you can’t tolerate the medication or overactive hormone production causes an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), surgery may be needed to correct the problem.

Surgical intervention may also be necessary when the gland produces so much thyroid hormone that it’s dangerous for your health, a condition called a thyroid storm or thyrotoxicosis. Thyrotoxicosis develops suddenly in those with hyperthyroidism, usually in response to infection or stress.

What causes hyperthyroidism?

There are several different medical conditions that can cause hyperthyroidism. These medical conditions can include:

  • Graves’ disease: Your immune system attacks your thyroid in this illness. This results in overproduction of thyroid hormones. Graves’ disease is an inherited condition (passed down through families). If a family member has Graves’ disease, there’s a chance that you or someone else in the family will as well. Women are more likely to be affected
  • Thyroid nodules: A thyroid nodule is a tumor or mass of cells in the thyroid gland. The nodule has the ability to produce hormones in excess of what your body require. Nodules like these are rarely cancerous.
  • Thyroiditis: Thyroiditis is an uncommon but serious disease that affects your thyroid gland. Thyroiditis implies inflammation (inflammation) of your thyroid gland. This inflammation can be triggered by a virus or a problem with your immune system. When the thyroid is inflamed, it may leak hormones, resulting in increased hormone levels than the body require.
  • Iodine: If you ingest too much iodine (through food or medication), your thyroid may over-function and produce more thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormones are made from iodine. Iodinated contrast (iodine “dye”) given by intravenous infusion (IM) may also cause hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid nodules

There are several types of thyroid nodules that are noncancerous – colloid nodule, follicular adenoma, thyroid cysts, and inflammatory nodules. Some nodules may go away on their own, or they can be treated with medications.

Surgical removal is considered when the nodules get so large that they interfere with normal thyroid function, make it hard to swallow, or affect your appearance.

Thyroid cancer

During surgery, the primary tumor is removed, which may involve part or all of the thyroid gland. Then the tissues are examined to be sure that all of the cancer was eliminated. If the cancer spreads beyond the tumor, additional tissues and lymph nodes may be removed during surgery.

To learn more about thyroid surgery, call the office or book an appointment online today.