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Partial Thyroidectomy


A partial thyroidectomy is the removal of part of your thyroid. Your thyroid is a gland in the front lower part of your neck. The thyroid makes hormones that regulate your metabolism, body temperature, and heart rate. Smaller glands called parathyroids regulate the level of calcium in your blood. You have 4 parathyroids, located on the sides of your thyroid gland. Your parathyroids will not be removed during this surgery.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Medicines:
    • Antithyroid medicine decreases the amount of hormone made by your thyroid gland.
    • Beta-blockers control your heart rate.
    • Iodine prevents too much bleeding.
    • Steroids may be given to prevent nausea.
  • Anesthesia will make you comfortable during the surgery. Healthcare providers work with you to decide which anesthesia is best for you.
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Healthcare providers may give you anesthesia through your IV, or you may breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
    • Regional anesthesia (nerve block) is a shot of medicine that will make you lose feeling in the surgery area.

During your surgery:

  • Your surgeon will make an incision in your lower neck or in another location to prevent a noticeable scar. He may remove part of your thyroid gland through a scope. He may instead need to open the area and remove the thyroid tissue through an incision.
  • Tools are used to monitor the location and function of the laryngeal nerves. These nerves are attached to your voice box and help you speak. Healthcare providers will monitor your laryngeal nerves to help prevent damage that may cause problems with speaking. If you are awake during surgery, you may be asked to speak to your healthcare providers.
  • One or more drains (thin rubber tubes) may be placed into your incision to remove extra fluid from the surgery area. Your incision will be closed with stitches and covered with a bandage.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Healthcare providers will monitor you closely for any problems. You may need blood tests to check your calcium, parathyroid hormone, and thyroid hormone levels. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. When your healthcare provider sees that you are okay, you may be taken to your hospital room or allowed to go home.

  • Drains will be taken out when the incision stops draining fluid.
  • Antinausea medicine can help calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Pain medicine can help take away or decrease your pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for your medicine. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it. Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a healthcare provider when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Calcium and vitamin D may be given through an IV placed in your arm or as a pill.


  • You may bleed more than expected and need a blood transfusion. Your voice may be hoarse or weak after surgery, and this may become a long-term problem. Your neck may be bruised and swollen, and it may be hard for you to breathe or swallow. Your parathyroid glands may not work as well as they should after surgery. This can cause your calcium levels to drop too low. Low calcium levels can cause many problems, including an irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, and seizures. This may be a short-term problem after surgery, or it may be a long-term problem. You may get a wound infection, which can become life-threatening.
  • If you do not have surgery, your thyroid gland may keep growing, making it hard for you to breathe or swallow. Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) may make your heart beat too fast, or it may not beat regularly. This can lead to heart failure, low blood calcium levels, and increased risk of bone fractures. Certain thyroid problems may become life-threatening if they are not treated.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.