Undergoing thyroid surgery is one of the treatment options adapted to relieve problems in the thyroid gland, which is shaped like a butterfly and located below the Adam's apple. In cases like an over performing thyroid gland, growth of nodules on the gland and thyroid cancer, the individual may have to undergo thyroidectomy (the medical term for thyroid surgery).
During this surgery, the affected part and sometimes even the complete thyroid gland is removed. Considered to be safe by the surgeons, the surgery takes about a couple of hours and the patient may be required to stay at the hospital overnight for diagnosis and post operative care. The recovery phase is approximately a couple of weeks, after which the person can resume his daily routine. However, a few cases of complications have been observed after the patient has undergone thyroidectomy.
Side Effects of Thyroid Surgery
There can be a few side effects of thyroid removal surgery, due to many reasons like if the patient is weak or if the body does not accept the new condition, in case the gland is completely removed. These complications may arise post surgery and is observed in a few individuals.
Pain and Wound Infection
Pain in the surgical wound is a common side effect observed in patients who have undergone thyroid surgery. Individuals may complain of moderate to persistent pain in the region, which may also be accompanied by difficulty in swallowing. At times, the surgical wound may also develop infection, owing to improper care. The wound may also swell and redden because of the infection. Sometimes the patient may experience a burning sensation at the site of the surgical wound. Other complications like blood clots or excessive bleeding may also arise as a result of the infection.
The laryngeal nerve plays a vital role in controlling the voice. Damage to the laryngeal nerve, during the surgery, can cause changes in the voice. The voice may become hoarser and the person may find it difficult to project his voice, unable to reach high notes and speak clearly. Though this change is temporary and the condition can return to normal, it causes discomfort to the person. In case the patient is having difficulties regarding voice or swallowing problems, it must be brought to the immediate notice of the health care provider, who may recommend some remedial measures.
Underactive Parathyroid Glands
Malfunctioning parathyroid glands may lead to hypoparathyroidism, which can interrupt with the normal body functions. Though this is rare in nature, this problem can arise if the blood supply to the gland is accidentally interrupted during the surgery or if there is an injury to the parathyroid glands. The signs of hypoparathyroidism can be seen as seizures, hair loss, muscle spasms, tingling sensations in the hands, etc. A failure to treat this condition on time can lead it to become potentially debilitating and also cause some other unwanted complications.
Low Calcium Levels
Suffering from low calcium levels or hypocalcemia is also a common side effect of thyroid surgery. This is because, when the thyroid gland is removed, it can affect the processing of calcium in the body, as the gland controls the levels of calcium in the body. With the absence of this gland, the body is unable to process calcium leading to a drop in its level. Individuals suffering from this problem may exhibit symptoms like muscle cramps and spasms, headaches, anxiety, a feeling of numbness and tingling sensation etc. The physician may prescribe calcium supplements to combat this problem and the symptoms usually disappear once you start taking these supplements.
In order to avoid complications which may stem post a thyroid surgery, or at least bring down their intensity, it is essential to get in touch with a health care provider, who will guide you accordingly.