Facing the Knife: Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Thyroidectomy


Facing the Knife: Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Thyroidectomy


Finding out that you are sick is not an easy task to embrace.  Sometimes, we think that we are stressed, exhausted, and losing or gaining weight due to pressure from work, family, and even ourselves.  Unfortunately, thyroid disease can be the underlying issue causing changes to the physiological functions in your body.  The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located below the larynx and above the collarbone.  It secretes hormones that regulate metabolism and temperature as well as interacting with other body systems, keeping you looking and feeling healthy and energized.  Disorders such as thyroid cancer, nodules, and hyperthyroidism require a thyroidectomy, which is when part of, or all, of your thyroid is removed.

Many people are apprehensive about going under the knife due to the belief that it can be emotionally and mentally scaring.  However, educating yourself on the different surgical options to you can change everything you think you know.  A minimally invasive endoscopic thyroidectomy is a revolutionary method to saving lives without the worry and stress that is usually associated with complex procedures.


Benefits of Minimally Invasive Video- Assisted Thyroidectomy

Speedy recovery time, less postoperative pain, and improved cosmetic results due to smaller incisions are the major benefits associated with laparoscopic surgery using an endoscope.

Numerous studies have been conducted comparing conventional thyroidectomies to minimally invasive endoscopic and minimal incision thyroidectomies, yielding safe, powerful results.  The Department of General Surgery, Medical School, at the University of Florence, performed one of these conclusive studies, which consisted of 957 patients undergoing different methods of thyroid surgery.  28.2% of those patients were operated on using minimally invasive techniques, and 71.8% were operated on using traditional methods.  It was concluded that, “when compared with conventional treatment, [video-assisted and open minimal-incision thyroidectomy] provided significant benefit in terms of cosmetic results and postoperative pain.”

Improved cosmetic results?  Women, unfortunately, are at great risk for developing thyroid disease than men (about 7 times more likely, according to experts).  One of the major benefits to minimally invasive thyroidectomies is to reduce the appearance of scarring, which is a huge concern for these women, and for most men as well.   The primary definition of minimally invasive thyroidectomies is “reduced incision length” (Kearney, James J.)

Surgeons that practice laparoscopic surgery have you in mind.  They understand that every patient wants to feel comfortable and confident in their own skin, especially after conquering life’s unrelenting battles.


Do you qualify for minimally invasive surgery?

Consulting your surgeon to know if you are a candidate for minimally invasive or traditional surgery is necessary to know which route to take.  Patients have the option to choose a less invasive procedure based off of the condition of the disorder;

  • If the condition is thyroid cancer, it must be less than 2 cm in size.
  • Thyroid nodules must be less than 3.5 cm in size.
  • It is necessary that glands be free of thyroiditis.
  • Goiters must be considered to be small.


Common Signs and Risk Factors to Thyroid Disorders

If you believe you may have a thyroid disorder, be proactive before too much growth can occur.  You may have more options if you confront your symptoms right away and seek treatment.

  • Discomfort/Enlargement of the neck:  Self Neck Check
  • Change in bowel movements: Constipation (Hypothyroidism) and Diarrhea (Hyperthyroidism)
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycle
  • Age:  Being over 50 years of age increases your chances
  • A family history of thyroid problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety (panic attacks)
  • Unexplained weight changes
  • Fatigue
  • High cholesterol (Hypothyroidism) and Low cholesterol (Hyperthyroidism)
  • Muscle and Join Pain/Weakness
  • Brittle and Dry Hair
  • Coarse and scaly skin

Only your physician or surgeon can properly diagnose thyroid disorders.  After the initial examination doctors may order tests such as a chest X-ray, a CT or MRI scan, blood tests to evaluate thyroid function, aspiration biopsy, an ultrasound, etc.  In the meantime, here are some red flags when it comes to disorder of the thyroid, and paying close attention to even subtle changes can bring you one step closer to a healthier you.

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Cianchi, F., D. Boni, E. Qirici, C. Cortesini, and G. Perigli. “Clinical Benefits of Minimally Invasive Techniques in Thyroid Surgery.” World Journal of Surgery 32.1 (2008): 45-5. National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Web. 05 Aug. 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17990025>.

Kearney, James J. “Minmally Invasive Thyroid Surgery.” Penn Cancer, n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <http://www.penncancer.com/pdf/Kearney.pdf>.

Shomon, Mary. “Top 10 Signs That You May Have a Thyroid Problem.” Health: Thyroid Disease. About.com, 2012. Web. 05 Aug. 2013. <http://thyroid.about.com/cs/basics_starthere/a/10signs.htm>.

Sklar, Hallie L. “Could You Have AThyroid Disorder?” Thyroid Disorders. Womenshealthmag.com, 2011. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/thyroid-disorders>.

“Thyroid Disorders and Surgery.” American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, 2010. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/Thyroid-Disorders.cfm>.


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