Thyroid Issues That Might Require Surgery

More than 12% of Americans develop a thyroid condition at some time during their adult life, but women are 5-8 times more likely than men to end up with a thyroid problem. You may have a hard time knowing if you have a thyroid condition, as the symptoms can mimic many conditions. 

That’s why it’s important to seek the help of Wilson DuMornay, MD, and our team of thyroid experts at Broward ENT Services. In most cases, your treatment begins with nonsurgical options. However, some thyroid problems are more likely to end up needing surgery than others. 

About your thyroid gland

Your thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck, where it resembles the shape of a butterfly. The gland has two lobes (the butterfly wings) connected by a strip of tissue called the isthmus (the butterfly’s body). 

The job of your thyroid gland is to produce and release hormones that control your metabolism and regulate virtually every part of your body, including vital functions such as breathing, your heart rate, body temperature, and nervous system. Aspects of your overall health such as your weight, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels also depend on thyroid hormones. 

Thyroid conditions that may require surgery

Whenever possible, your thyroid condition is treated with medications or other conservative options before we talk about surgery. When Dr. DuMornay recommends surgery, it’s most often due to these conditions: 

Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid gland, or hyperthyroidism, is most often caused by an autoimmune disorder called Graves’ disease. The condition can also develop if you have an inflamed thyroid or nodules or a goiter that are producing excessive amounts of hormones.

The first line of treatment for hyperthyroidism is medication, but if that doesn’t help, surgery is often the next step. In most cases, Dr. DuMornay reduces the size of the gland, which limits the amount of hormones produced. 

Goiter

A goiter is an enlarged thyroid gland. While a goiter can be caused by a lack of iodine in your diet, that problem seldom occurs in the United States thanks to iodized salt. When Americans develop a goiter, it’s usually due to thyroid nodules or one of two possible autoimmune conditions: Hashimoto's thyroiditis (an underactive thyroid gland) and Graves’ disease (an overactive thyroid gland).

You may need surgery to remove a goiter when it gets large enough to affect your appearance, interferes with your ability to swallow or breathe, or the goiter is associated with the overproduction of hormones. 

Thyroid nodules

Nodules are abnormal growths that develop inside your thyroid gland. You may have one nodule or multiple nodules, and they can vary significantly in size. Small nodules may not cause symptoms, but when they enlarge, they lead to a goiter. 

Thyroid nodules can also become toxic, which means they produce thyroid hormones, causing an excessive amount and a hyperactive thyroid gland. Although most nodules are benign, they may become cancerous.

I may recommend surgery when the nodule is suspicious for cancer, the nodules cause problems due to excessive hormone production, or the growths get large enough to cause difficulty swallowing or pressure in your neck. 

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is different from the other conditions because surgery to remove the tumor is the first line of treatment. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, you undergo one of the following procedures:

There are several types of thyroid cancer. The most common type, papillary thyroid cancer, grows slowly and is often cured with surgery. However, it can spread throughout the thyroid, into your lymph nodes, and metastasize into your body if it’s not diagnosed at an early stage. 

When you face a thyroid condition that might require surgery, you need a physician with the expertise to accurately diagnose the underlying problem. You’ll find that level of care at Broward ENT Services — call us or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment today.

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