Appearing this week in the New England Journal of Medicine is an article titled “Saving Thyroids”. It is very appropriately timed from our perspective at Austin Thyroid Surgeons, as we strongly agree with the authors that there are currently too many total thyroidectomies being performed by surgeons on patients who should be getting only a lobectomy (removal of half of the thyroid).
The advantages of getting just a lobectomy are several:
- avoiding hormone replacement (in most cases) as the remaining lobe can likely meet your body’s needs
- cutting the risks of surgery such as nerve injury or parathyroid calcium issues in half
- shorter surgery time meaning less time in the OR under general anesthesia
- return home and to work more quickly with an easier recovery
- less post-operative pain and increased functionality
- better cosmetic outcomes with smaller incisions
All of these advantages can be realized without compromising your long term outcomes, even in the case of small cancers. Data is showing that long-term disease free survival can be equivalent with total thyroidectomy or lobectomy in properly chosen cases.
The bottom line is that you need to choose a surgeon who has extensive knowledge of all of the surgical options for you! Going to a surgeon for your thyroid issue or thyroid cancer should not always mean that all of your thyroid is removed. Unfortunately this is all too commonly the case in many instances.
If your physician tells you that you need your entire thyroid removed, please ask “Why?”, and make sure you are completely satisfied with the answer. If not, come see Dr. Brady and Dr. Sabra at Austin Thyroid Surgeons and we will be sure to answer all of your questions completely (and will save as much of your healthy thyroid as possible!).
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