A thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. It is generally carried out when the thyroid gland is linked to an existing disorder, such as hyperthyroidism, cancer of the thyroid gland, or for cosmetic implications in the case of an enlarged thyroid. This procedure may also be performed if the structure of the thyroid gland causes an obstruction, making swallowing or breathing difficult. Depending on whether the gland is completely or partially removed, the procedure is referred to as a total or partial thyroidectomy, respectively. There are a number of ways in which this procedure may be performed. The methodology differs according to each case, and the method best suited to your predicament will be discussed with you by the surgeon. Also, each different method influences the associated recovery period, causing it to vary accordingly. The following are some details pertaining to thyroidectomy recovery and the associated care procedures to take note of, following your thyroid removal surgery.
Recovery Period for a Thyroidectomy
In some cases, the extent of thyroid gland removal may be decided during the course of surgery itself, when the surgeon is able to see the gland. Advances in medicine imply that current procedures can be carried out by minimally invasive surgical techniques, where the associated thyroidectomy recovery period is lower, and the possible complications are also reduced. As with any other surgical procedure, your doctor will go through various preoperative procedures, which include asking you about your medical records and history, any known allergies, any previous adverse reaction to anesthesia, medication that you may be on, and you may also be asked to you fill out some forms. Any questions or doubts that you may have should be mentioned and addressed at this point, so that you're clear about the procedure and know exactly what to expect. You will also have to undergo some routine diagnostic tests to prepare you for surgery.
Depending on the associated disorder, area to be removed, and general health of the patient, the surgical procedure will vary along with the recovery period. Minimally invasive surgeries translate into shorter hospital stays and recovery period, but not everyone is a suitable candidate. Partial thyroidectomy recovery period, for instance, may be as low as a single day's hospitalization, and 2 weeks rest before you can return to work and resume your daily activities. However, everyone heals at a different rate, therefore it's close to impossible to pin down an exact period of recovery. You are the best judge of your body, and hence, will be able to gauge when you feel better, and ready to return to normal.
Immediately after your surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room, where you may be kept on an intravenous supply of medication, and restricted to a liquid diet for a while, to confirm the success of the surgery and the absence of any infection. You will also be monitored for sudden reduction in calcium levels - this is a common reaction post a thyroidectomy. You may experience difficulty or pain while swallowing for 2-3 days, which is not unusual; your voice may be raspy and hoarse as well. The incision may either be sealed using a medical glue, or covered with a dressing for the first few days - you will be given instructions on how to change dressings, if required. Discharge from the hospital should follow within 2- 4 days, following which you should be able to walk, eat normally, and visit the bathroom without assistance.
You will also prescribed certain medications to overcome the reduced activity of the thyroid gland due to the surgery. These should be taken vigilantly and underdosing or overdosing should be avoided at all costs. After your operation, you need to be vigilant about any possible complications that may develop in the course of the recovery. If you experience any bleeding, redness or swelling around the point of incision, drainage from the site, fever, muscle spasms, or a thickening keloid scar, you must consult your doctor and surgeon as soon as possible. Should you find any other abnormalities, take the precaution of speaking to your doctor, and make a trip to the emergency room if necessary. The period for a full recovery can be kept to the minimum if you follow all instructions issued by the doctor, and take time to let your body heal.
Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.