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What Type of Thyroid Surgery Might I Need?

What Type of Thyroid Surgery Might I Need?

Throughout a lifetime, more than 12% of Americans will suffer from a thyroid problem, including overactive or underactive thyroid, goiter, and thyroid cancer. While some thyroid problems can be treated with medicine or noninvasive therapies, other thyroid problems require surgery.

At Desert West Surgery, our team of skilled surgeons uses advanced surgical techniques for patients requiring thyroid surgery, supporting a quick and complete recovery. This post provides an overview of thyroid surgery, including when it’s used, and the three main types of surgery used to treat thyroid problems.

Indications for thyroid surgery

Located near the base of the front of your throat, your thyroid gland produces three hormones that are essential in regulating your metabolism, heart rate, temperature, and digestive system. When the thyroid gland develops a medical problem, hormones can increase or decrease, resulting in a wide array of symptoms that can affect your overall wellness dramatically.

While medications can control some thyroid problems, some thyroid problems require surgery. These include thyroid cancers and benign (noncancerous) conditions, including thyroid nodules or lumps that interfere with thyroid function or swallowing. 

Goiter is another thyroid problem that may require surgery. With a goiter, one side of your thyroid gland is enlarged due to irregular tissue growth in that part of the gland. We may also recommend surgery to remove a symptomatic cyst that recurs despite conservative treatment.

Three primary types of thyroid surgery

There are three main types of thyroid surgery, depending primarily on how much of the thyroid is removed.


Often described as a butterfly-shaped gland, the thyroid is made up of two halves or lobes, connected by additional gland tissue called the isthmus. In a lobectomy, your surgeon removes one lobe, leaving the other lobe intact. In some cases, the surgeon may also remove the isthmus.

Total thyroidectomy

In a total thyroidectomy, the entire gland is removed, including both lobes and the isthmus. This surgery is usually reserved for people with thyroid cancer, but it may also be recommended for severe cases of hyperthyroidism or goiter. For cancer, the surgeon typically removes local lymph nodes and examines them for cancer.

Subtotal thyroidectomy

Also called a near-total or partial thyroidectomy, subtotal thyroidectomy surgery removes one entire lobe, part of the second lobe, and the isthmus. Subtotal thyroidectomy is generally recommended for some patients with hyperthyroidism. Removing most but not all of the glands enables the thyroid to continue producing hormones at a significantly reduced rate.

Your surgeon will determine the optimal surgery for you based on the underlying problem causing your thyroid issues.

Find out more about thyroid surgery

If you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid issue that requires surgery, scheduling an office visit is the best way to learn more about the surgical technique we recommend for you — and to feel confident about the procedure and your results. 

To schedule your visit, call Desert West Surgery and book an appointment with our team at the Las Vegas location nearest you.

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