What are Thyroid and Parathyroid surgery?

Both these surgeries are done to the thyroid, which is responsible for producing hormones which control the metabolism and heart rate. A thyroidectomy is the removal of the entire thyroid, while a parathyroidectomy is the removal of the diseased thyroid or a tumour of the thyroid.

Why would a thyroid surgery be done?

These surgeries may be considered if you have thyroid cancer, for overactive glands causing Hyperthyroidism (which is a goitre which is interfering with breathing and swallowing), a biopsy of a thyroid nodule.

How are thyroid surgeries done?

A thyroidectomy or parathyroidectomy may be done thru open surgery or laparoscopic surgery. Using general anaesthesia, depending on whether the surgery is done laparoscopically or thru open surgery, the procedure will differ.


Using laparoscopic surgery, small puncture-like incisions are made in the throat. Thru these incisions, a thin tube with a camera is inserted to view the thyroid and perform the surgery. Tiny instruments are used to remove part (parathyroidectomy) or the entire thyroid (thyroidectomy). The puncture-like incisions are then closed with absorbable stitches.

If done thru open surgery, a small incision is made near the collarbone to access the thyroid. By separating the muscles, the thyroid (thyroidectomy) or part thereof (parathyroidectomy) is removed. The incision is then closed with absorbable stitches.

If cancer is suspected or the parathyroidectomy is done for a tumour, Dr Muthambi may want to remove the lymph nodes during this surgery to prevent spreading of cancer cells to other areas of the body.

What will happen after the procedure?

After surgery it is normal to feel pain in the neck, difficulty chewing and swallowing, and to have red skin around the wounds and a sore, hoarse voice. You may need to stay in the hospital for a day or two for observation and for the nurses to drain and clean the wound. You will be instructed by your surgeon how to look after the wounds. It is essential to contact Dr Muthambi if you experience any of the following symptoms as emergency care may be needed:

  • High temperature or chills
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling around the incisions
  • Bleeding or pussing from the wound
  • Extreme pain

What are the potential risks and complications of a thyroid surgery?

The risks during this procedure are rare, but the following may occur:

  • Infection of the wound or internal infection
  • Airway obstruction caused by bleeding
  • Bleeding
  • Low blood calcium levels
  • Permanent hoarse voice due to nerve damage
  • Risks from general anaesthesia