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Total Thyroidectomy


A total thyroidectomy is surgery to remove your thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland makes hormones that regulate your metabolism, body temperature, heart rate, and the level of calcium in your blood. Your thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and found in the front lower part of your neck.



  • Thyroid hormone: You are given this medicine to bring your thyroid hormone level back to normal.
  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take this medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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.

Follow up with your endocrinologist or surgeon as directed:

You may need to return to have your bandage changed, drains removed, or more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Drains: You may go home with one or more drains in your neck. Ask your surgeon for more information about drains.
  • Swallowing and voice changes: You may have a sore throat, hoarse voice, or difficulty swallowing after surgery. It is normal to have these problems for up to 6 months after total thyroidectomy surgery.
  • Supplements: Ask your endocrinologist if you need to take calcium or vitamin D and how much to take.

Contact your endocrinologist or surgeon if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions about your drain.
  • You have pain in your surgery area that does not go away after you take pain medicine.
  • You lose weight, feel very nervous and hungry, and sweat for no reason.
  • You feel very tired and cold, gain weight for no reason, and your skin is very dry.
  • You vomit several times in a row.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • Your incision is swollen, red, or has pus coming from it.
  • You have new voice weakness or hoarseness, or it is getting worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have sudden tingling or muscle cramps in your face, arm, or leg.
  • You have muscle spasms in your legs and feet that do not go away.
  • You have sudden abdominal pain.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • Your incision comes apart, or blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have sudden swelling in your neck or difficulty swallowing.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough, or you cough up blood.

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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.