Thyroid Problems

There are several common problems of the Thyroid gland:  overactive thyroid, underactive thyroid and thyroid nodules. Patients are most commonly referred to us for the evaluation and treatment of thyroid nodules and occasionally for the treatment of overactive thyroid. Most thyroid nodules are benign but a small number are cancerous, so all nodules need to be carefully evaluated.

The most common way that you might discover that you have a nodule is if you feel a nodule in your neck.

Diagnosis and evaluation

Your primary physician will examine you and likely perform some blood tests. Usually, the next step is an ultrasound. Other tests may be ordered such as a thyroid scan or a radioiodine uptake test.

In the case of thyroid nodules, a Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy—where a thin needle extracts cells or fluid from the nodule—may be taken. This may be done in MSA’s offices or at the hospital radiology department with ultrasound guidance.

Treatments

Hypothyroidism—The most common treatment is simple medication—thyroid hormone pills.

Hyperthyroidism—There are several treatment methods, however, sometimes the removal of the thyroid gland may be the best course.

Thyroid nodules—Nodules (if benign) are often treated with thyroid hormone medication. When large or cancerous nodules are present, surgery is most often the treatment required.

Thyroid surgery

Your primary physician may have referred you to MSA if surgery to remove part of all of your thyroid gland. We will help you prepare for the surgery:

  • First, you’ll meet with your MSA doctor so that you will know who is performing the surgery and all of your questions about it can be answered.
  • At that meeting, you will also receive detailed instructions to prepare yourself for the procedure including specific dietary restrictions for the 12 hours before surgery and for medications or supplements that you usually take.
  • Plan on spending one or two days in the hospital as we will want to monitor your recovery after surgery.
  • General anesthesia will be administered, so you will be asleep throughout the surgery. An incision will be made in a skin crease on your neck, and once we have removed the nodule or appropriate amount of your thyroid gland, the incision will be closed with surgical clips, strips or sutures.

Risks or complications from the surgery

Like any surgery, there are possible risks and complications which we will discuss with you. The include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to parathyroid glands
  • Damage to the nerves in your larynx (voice box) that could lead to temporary or permanent hoarseness

After the surgery

  • You should be able to get up and walk around after the effects of the anesthesia has worn off, and you should also be able to resume normal eating and drinking on the same evening after the surgery.
  • After the first day, pain should be minimal although you may experience hoarseness or a sore throat for 5-7 days.
  • Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital, as you will probably not be able to drive yourself.
  • Before you go home, you will receive instructions that will help you to recover as quickly as possible—including advice about bathing and physical activity during your recovery period, which should last no longer than a few weeks.

Important Note:

If you have recently had thyroid surgery and you notice any of these symptoms, call us immediately (970.249.4321):

  • Swelling or bleeding at the incision site
  • Signs of infection such as fever, warmth or tenderness
  • Sore throat that persists beyond three weeks
  • Cramps or tingling in your feet, hands or lips