The term thyroidectomy encompasses many different procedures that are performed on the gland. The principles of the operations are the same but the amounts of tissue removed vary. In order to understand the different types of operation that can be performed on the thyroid, it is important to familiarise yourself with the basic anatomy of the thyroid gland. This is shown below:
When operating on the thyroid, a surgeon can perform a:
In this procedure, the surgeon will remove one lobe of the thyroid. This operation is performed to remove a nodule (solitary hot or cold nodules) and goitres that occur in one lobe.
In this procedure, the surgeon will remove part of one lobe of the thyroid gland. This operation can be used to remove a solitary nodule in one specific part of the thyroid.
This procedure is used when more thyroid tissue needs to be removed than in a lobectomy. This is used for benign Hurthle cell tumours and for non-aggressive thyroid cancers.
This procedure is used to remove almost all the thyroid, but still leaving enough of the gland to produce some hormones.This operation is little used and has been replaced by total thyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy alone.
This procedure removes all the thyroid gland. It is used in cases of thyroid cancers, Hurthle cell tumours and more and more for multinodular goitres and patients with Grave's disease
Prior to surgery all patients will have a detailed explanation their operation discussed with them and great care is taken to ensure that the consent is informed and fully understood by the patient.
The thyroid gland being removed during a total thyroidectomy - click to enlarge