What can I Expect During Goiter Surgery?

A goiter is inflammation of the thyroid gland.
General anesthesia is required to perform a goiter surgery.
Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of goiters.
Goiters can usually be detected by doctors during a neck exam.
Surgery may be required to remove a goiter.
Problems with the thyroid gland may cause high blood pressure.
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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2015
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Inflammation of the thyroid gland is usually called goiter, and may require surgery to remove either part or all of the gland. If you have been diagnosed with goiter, you should have an idea of what to expect during and after the procedure so that you can prepare. Your doctor first needs to determine whether surgery is needed at all, and if so, how much of the thyroid gland to remove. Cells will be tested to find out if they are cancerous, and once any threat is removed, you can return home soon afterward to recover.

In many cases, a needle aspiration biopsy will be performed before goiter surgery so that the doctor can first determine whether such an invasive treatment is necessary. During this procedure, local anesthesia is applied to the thyroid lump, and then a hypodermic needle is inserted in order to remove some cells from it. The cells are then analyzed by the doctor to determine whether they are cancerous, in which case goiter surgery is typically necessary. Additionally, if the lump has caused the esophagus or windpipe to be constricted, it will be removed whether cancer is found in the cells or not. Symptoms of this issue include a change in voice tone, a cough, or choking while lying down.


Goiter surgery is typically done in a hospital, using general anesthesia so that you do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. The doctor usually decides whether to remove all or part of the thyroid gland at this time. In most cases, just the lobe that has the lump is removed, sometimes along with the isthmus, which connects the two lobes together. It is not usually known what exactly needs to be removed until you are in the operating room, though your surgeon should usually let you know just before the surgery.

Once the goiter surgery is complete, you will be given a small tube to drain the blood and other fluid from the area. It can be removed after about a day, at which point the fluids should quit accumulating and become stable. The majority of patients only need to stay in the hospital for a day or two after goiter surgery, as they can continue recovering at home. Once home, you will likely have to take thyroid hormone replacement and extra calcium, depending on what your doctor decides. Symptoms to alert your doctor about after the surgery include a fever, swelling, discharge from the site of the incision, numbness in hands, or general pain.


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Discuss this Article

Post 7

I have multinodules non toxic goiter. I usually ignore it and pay no mind of going to a doctor, etc., because I don't have health insurance here in the United States. I am divorced and my ex doesn't cover my health insurance. Recently, I noticed that it's getting big and bothering me in my daily living. I am working for myself and support myself, but can't afford thousands for surgery. Any suggestions for what I can do, or organizations that are willing to sponsor or help people like me? Any ideas?

Post 6

I have a goiter and this disease is not common to a male individual like me. Just let me know how much the goiter operation here in the Philippines will cost.

Post 5

I just had my goiter out four days ago. It was my companion for 16 years and I finally decided it was time. It was not cancer. They called it Hashimoto's thyroiditis. It was very large and heavy and was wrapped around my larynx. I can breathe and swallow easier now. I could talk right away. My calcium levels high enough that I don't need a supplement. Yeah! I'm glad I did it.

Post 4

@fify-- What @ZipLine said is right. If the nodule is bigger than three centimeters, and if the entire thyroid has nodules, they will do thyroid surgery regardless of whether it is cancerous or not.

I had complete thyroid / goiter removal last year because of nodules. The surgery was easy, I didn't feel a thing thanks to the anesthesia. I had the drain for about a day and a half. Thankfully there wasn't much fluid or blood after the surgery. My throat was sore for about a week and painful for several months when I tried to talk.

The biggest issue was not having a voice for a couple of months. I basically didn't talk during that time, I just wanted to let my throat heal. After about two and a half months, I could talk without any pain but I couldn't really raise my voice until five months after the surgery.

Post 3

@fify-- Usually goiter surgery is necessary when the nodules are malignant (cancerous). But the doctor might declare it necessary if he thinks that the nodules have a high risk of developing cancer or if the nodules are very large.

So the first step is a biopsy to check if the nodules are malignant. If it is, he will remove the nodules and parts or all of the thyroid. If it is not malignant, but if the person has a history of cancer or is at high risk of thyroid cancer for various reasons, the doctor might decide to operate anyway.

Also, if the patient complains of difficulty swallowing or breathing, this is another reason for goiter surgery.

Post 2

Aside from cancerous cells and constriction of windpipe, are there any other factors that require goiter surgery? As far as I understand, most cases of enlarged thyroid do not require surgery correct? Why would someone with nodular goiter require surgery?

I've had hypothyroid and goiter for several years. At my recent ultrasound, the doctor said that I have nodules in my thyroid and that I will need to have goiter surgery.

I don't understand why I wasn't required to have surgery before and do now. Are thyroid nodules an important factor that make goiter surgery necessary?

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