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Total Thyroidectomy


  • A total thyroidectomy is surgery to take out all of your thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is important for making hormones that help your body work right. Your thyroid gland is in the front lower part of your neck. It is made up of two sections. Each section has two parathyroid glands. The parathyroid glands control the calcium level in your body, and are an important part of your thyroid gland. Your thyroid may grow too big or it may make too many hormones. This can lead to conditions such as hyperthyroidism, benign multinodular goiter, or cancer. Benign means that the goiter is not cancer, but it may turn into cancer if it is not treated. Certain medicines may also cause your thyroid gland to stop working right. Total thyroidectomy surgery may be needed to correct certain thyroid conditions.
  • If you have cancer, your thyroid gland, as well as tissue and lymph nodes around the gland may be removed. Your parathyroid glands may also be removed, and then put back into another place in your neck during surgery. Putting your parathyroid glands back into your neck will help the calcium level in your blood stay at the level it should be. After this surgery, swallowing and breathing problems may go away. Removing your thyroid gland and tissue and lymph nodes may also prevent certain thyroid problems from returning or getting worse.
    Thyroid and Parathyroid Glands


Take your medicine as directed:

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Thyroid hormone: You are given this medicine to bring your thyroid hormone level back to normal.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Calcium and vitamin D pills: Your caregiver may tell you to take calcium and vitamin D pills.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • Ask your caregiver when you should return to have blood tests. These blood tests will help your caregiver learn if you have enough thyroid hormone and calcium in your body. You may also need to have drains removed, and your bandage changed.

How should I take care of myself at home?

  • Drains: You may go home with one or more drains in your neck. Ask your caregiver for more information about drains.
  • Swallowing and voice changes: You may have trouble swallowing, or a sore throat after surgery. You may have a hoarse sounding voice. It is normal to have these problems for up to six months after total thyroidectomy surgery. Ask your caregiver for more information about swallowing problems and voice changes after surgery.


  • You are losing weight, you feel very nervous and hungry, and you are sweating for no reason.
  • You have pain in your surgery area that does not go away, or gets worse even after taking pain medicine.
  • You feel very tired and cold, you are gaining weight for no reason, and your skin is very dry.
  • You start vomiting (throwing up) and it does not stop.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • Your incision is swollen, red, or has pus coming from it.
  • You have questions about your drain.
  • You have a fever (high body temperature).
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery or medicine.
  • You have new voice weakness or hoarseness, or it is getting worse.


  • The muscles in your legs and feet are suddenly tingling or cramping, or you suddenly have muscle spasms that do not go away.
  • You have sudden stomach pain.
  • You have sudden tingling in your lips, fingers and toes.
  • Your neck area suddenly looks and feels like it is swelling up.
  • You suddenly have trouble swallowing.
  • Your incision comes apart, or you start bleeding from it.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.