Thyroid Surgery

The Division of Endocrine Surgery at the University of Michigan is renowned for its internationally recognized experts in both routine and advanced thyroid treatments and patient care. As the first and one of the largest divisions of Endocrine Surgery in the United States, our surgeons currently perform over 500 thyroid surgeries per year. This high volume influences  lower complication rates and optimal patient outcomes.

In addition to practicing conventional open surgical techniques, we also utilize minimally invasive surgical options for thyroidectomy for a select group of patients. Our highly-trained specialists offer current and emerging surgical technologies for outstanding results in treatment and management of thyroid disorders.

When is Thyroid Surgery Needed?

To decide on the best course of treatment, each patient is carefully evaluated. If surgery is recommended, your surgeon will discuss the appropriate surgical options with you. Surgical options range from removing only the side of the thyroid gland that contains the nodule (thyroid lobectomy or hemithyroidectomy) to removing the entire thyroid gland (total thyroidectomy).

For patients with nodules that need to be removed, some of these surgeries can be performed as a minimally invasive procedure. Depending on the situation and the procedure performed, some patients may be sent home the same day while others remain in the hospital overnight and are sent home the next morning.

For patients with benign nodules not needing removal, thyroid radiofrequency ablation (RFA) treatment may be an option. This treatment is used to shrink thyroid nodules and alleviate symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, a sensation of pressure or discomfort and visible swelling.

How is Thyroid Surgery Usually Performed?

Thyroid surgery is performed in a hospital operating room under general anesthetic. The patient is drifted off to sleep with medication through an I.V. and a breathing tube is put in place. An incision is made in the lower half of the neck following the skin lines. The underlying muscles are opened to expose the thyroid gland. The surgeon then removes part or all of the thyroid gland while taking great care not to injure nearby blood vessels or nerves.

Every attempt is made to preserve the parathyroid glands in their normal positions. The parathyroid glands are small glands which produce a hormone that controls calcium levels in the bloodstream. After the thyroid is removed, the muscles are put back together and the skin is closed with surgical glue. A small dressing using steri-strips is often applied.

Minimally Invasive Thyroid Surgery

In addition to utilizing conventional surgical techniques, the University of Michigan endocrine surgeons offer minimally invasive surgical options for thyroidectomy for a select group of patients. The technique offers distinct advantages over conventional open surgery including smaller incisions, less pain and reduced scarring.

You might be a potential candidate for the minimally invasive option if:

  • you had no previous surgery in the area of the thyroid gland
  • you have no significant inflammation of the thyroid gland
  • your thyroid nodule volume is less than 30cc
  • your Body Mass Index (BMI), physique, and other co-existing medical conditions meet the criteria

If You are Scheduled for Thyroid Surgery

For more information about thyroid surgery, including information about what to expect before and after your operation, visit the About Your Thyroid Surgery page on the Division of Endocrine Surgery website.

Make an Appointment

To schedule an appointment to discuss thyroid surgery, please call us at (734) 936-5818, or visit our online appointment request page. For more appointment information, including information about insurance, visit our Endocrine Surgery Appointments page.