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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2023.

What Is It?

Harvard Health Publishing

Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. This important gland, located in the lower front portion of the neck, produces thyroid hormone, which regulates the body's production of energy. A healthy thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly, with right and left lobes connected by a bridge called the thyroid isthmus. Depending on the reason for a thyroidectomy, all or part of the thyroid gland will be removed. The various types of thyroidectomy include:


A thyroidectomy may be performed by using a conventional surgical approach, by an endoscopic method done through smaller incisions, or by robotic assisted surgery.

What It's Used For

Conventional thyroidectomy is done for the following reasons:

In some people, as an alternative to a conventional thyroidectomy, an endoscopic thyroidectomy can be done to remove small thyroid cysts or small benign thyroid nodules (less than 4 centimeters, or about 1 ½ inches). Endoscopic thyroidectomy is not usually used to treat multiple thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer or thyroid storm.


Your surgeon will want to minimize any risk of bleeding.  If you take aspirin, another type of platelet inhibitor or anticoagulant, your doctor will advise how many day prior to the surgery you should stop the medicine based on why you need to take one or more of these drugs.

To reduce the risk of vomiting during surgery, most often you will be told not to eat or drink for several hours prior to the time of your scheduled time for surgery. You will be able to take your scheduled medicines, with doses potentially adjusted by your doctor, with a small sip of water. As part of the general preparations for surgery, your doctor will review your allergies and your medical and surgical histories. If you may be pregnant, you must tell your doctor before surgery. Because you will be having a procedure that involves an area above your shoulders, you will be asked to remove all necklaces and earrings before you are taken to the operating room.

How It's Done

Both types of thyroidectomy are usually done under general anesthesia. However, if general anesthesia is too risky for a patient, local or regional anesthesia may be used to permit the patient to remain awake during the procedure. An intravenous (IV) line will be inserted into one of your veins to deliver fluids and medications.


About one week after you return home from the hospital, you will visit your doctor for follow-up. At this visit, your doctor will check the healing of your incision or incisions. After thyroid surgery, you will need periodic blood tests to measure your thyroid hormone levels. Calcium and phosphorus levels are checked to evaluate the function of your parathyroid glands, which sometimes are damaged during thyroid surgery. If all of your thyroid gland was removed, you can expect to take thyroid supplements for the rest of your life.


Thyroidectomy is generally a safe surgical procedure. However, some people have major or minor complications. Possible complications include:

When To Call A Professional

Once you return home from the hospital, call your doctor immediately if:

Additional Info

American Thyroid Association, Inc.

National Library of Medicine (NLM)

Further information

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