What is Hemithyroidectomy?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the lower front of the neck which has two lobes and a connecting body called the isthmus. The thyroid gland produces hormones into the blood that regulate the functions of muscles and organs such as the brain and heart and help the body use energy and remain warm. Surgery is usually recommended to eradicate nodular growths by removing all or part of the gland. Hemithyroidectomy is a procedure to remove one lobe of the gland. For large or multi-nodular growths, a hemithyroidectomy with isthmusectomy (removal of isthmus) may be performed.

Indications for Hemithyroidectomy

Hemithyroidectomy is indicated for single or multiple, benign or cancerous growths or nodules of the thyroid gland.

Preparing for the Surgery

  • Before the surgery, you will receive a complete medical evaluation and your doctor will discuss your surgery in detail.
  • The anaesthetist attending the procedure will also evaluate you. You should notify your doctor of any allergies or any medications you are taking.
  • You may be instructed to stop taking certain medications prior to surgery.
  • Nasoendoscopy will be performed to check your vocal cords and their function.
  • 8 hours before the procedure, you should have nothing to eat or drink.

Surgical Procedure

  • The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia. Your surgeon makes an incision of about 4-6 centimetre in the centre of your neck, through which the thyroid gland is excised.
  • In a minority of patients, a small tube (catheter) is inserted to drain accumulated blood and fluids. The incisions are then closed with stitches or sutures.
  • This entire procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete if the entire gland is removed and much less time when only a part of the gland is removed.

Following surgery, you will be taken to a recovery room where you are monitored for a few hours and will normally be able to return home the same day. Eating and drinking may be a little painful initially. Your doctor will prescribe medications for pain. Routine activities may be resumed the day after your procedure. Complete recovery may take 2-4 weeks.

Risks and Complications

As with any surgery, hemithyroidectomy may involve certain risks and complications such as anaesthesia complications, wound infection and nerve injury.