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What Are the Side Effects of Removing Your Thyroid?

Reviewed on 8/18/2020

What Is the Thyroid Gland?

Side effects of thyroid removal are hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone), low calcium, tremor and spasms.
Side effects of thyroid removal are hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone), low calcium, tremor and spasms.

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located below the Adam's apple in the lower part of the neck and wraps around the windpipe (trachea). 

It produces thyroid hormones which:

  • Help the body use energy
  • Maintain body temperature
  • Keep the heart, brain, muscles, and other organs functioning properly

Why Is Thyroid Removal Surgery Performed?

The main reasons a doctor may recommend thyroid removal surgery include:

What Are Types of Thyroid Removal Surgery?

Removal of the thyroid gland (thyroidectomy) may be partial or total. 

Types of thyroid removal surgeries include:

  • Hemi-thyroidectomy or thyroid lobectomy: one lobe (one half) of the thyroid is removed
  • Isthmusectomy: removal of just the bridge of thyroid tissue between the two lobes
    • Performed only for small tumors located in the isthmus
  • Total or near-total thyroidectomy: removal of all or most of the thyroid tissue
  • Open thyroid biopsy (rare): a nodule is removed directly

What Are the Side Effects of Removing Your Thyroid?

Some patients become hypothyroid (have low thyroid hormone) following thyroid surgery, particularly when the entire thyroid gland is removed. This requires lifelong treatment with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. 

Other side effects of thyroid removal surgery (thyroidectomy) that may require patients to be re-hospitalized include: 

  • Tingling in the fingers that can progress to tremors
  • Spasms in all muscles of the body, including the heart and muscles surrounding the lungs
  • Low calcium levels (hypocalcemia)

What Are Complications of Thyroid Surgery?

Complications of thyroid surgery include:

  • Bleeding 
  • Injury to a laryngeal nerve resulting in temporary or permanent hoarseness
  • Acute respiratory distress in if both laryngeal nerves are injured (rare)
  • Damage to the parathyroid glands that control calcium levels in the blood, leading to low parathyroid hormone (hypoparathyroidism) and low blood calcium (hypocalcemia)

QUESTION

Where is the thyroid gland located? See Answer

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Reviewed on 8/18/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference



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