The thyroid is a small gland that sits at the base of your neck. This gland is responsible for producing hormones, such as triiodothyronine and thyroxine. These hormones are referred to as T3 and T4, respectively. The primary function of the thyroid gland is to regulate your metabolism. Along with controlling digestive function, metabolism plays a key role in regulating your body temperature and also your heart rate. Even though this gland plays a large role in the function of your body, it sometimes needs to be removed. The removal of the thyroid is a type of ENT surgery called a thyroidectomy.
If you would like to better understand this procedure, here are three things you should know about thyroidectomies.
1. Know Who Performs Thyroidectomies
In most cases, an ENT surgeon performs thyroidectomies. This type of doctor is also called an otolaryngologist. These doctors specialize in surgeries having to do with the ears, nose, and throat. Those who need a thyroidectomy should ensure that the ENT surgeon specializes in thyroidectomies. The ENT surgeon should also be board-certified and have experience with various thyroid conditions.
2. Know the Types of Thyroidectomy Procedures
There are two types of thyroidectomies. One is a partial thyroidectomy in which only a portion of the thyroid gets removed. The part of the thyroid that remains intact takes over for the entire thyroid. The other type of procedure is a complete thyroidectomy in which the entire thyroid is removed. If the entire thyroid is removed, patients will need to replace their T3 and T4 hormones with a medication called levothyroxine.
There are also different ways that a thyroidectomy gets performed. For example, during a conventional thyroidectomy, the ENT surgeon makes an incision in the neck in order to remove the thyroid. Another method is called a transoral thyroidectomy in which the incision is made inside the mouth. During an endoscopic thyroidectomy, the ENT surgeon makes small incisions in the neck and uses a small video camera to guide the procedure.
3. Know Why It's Necessary to Remove the Thyroid
There are various reasons that an ENT surgeon performs a partial or complete thyroidectomy. Some of these reasons include:
- The patient has a large goiter that makes it difficult to swallow or breathe.
- The thyroid is overactive and the patient does not want radioactive iodine therapy.
- The patient has nodules in the thyroid that increase the risk of cancer.
Thyroid cancer is another common reason a thyroidectomy is performed. Symptoms of thyroid cancer include a hoarse voice or sore throat that doesn't improve, swollen glands in the neck, and a painless lump in the front part of the neck.
For more information, contact an ENT surgeon in your area.