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Thyroidectomy is the removal of the thyroid gland, which is shaped like a butterfly and lies across the windpipe (trachea). The gland makes hormones that control how your body makes and uses energy (metabolism). A doctor removes the gland when a tumour is present. The doctor may also remove the gland if you have an enlarged thyroid that is causing symptoms that bother you. Most tumours that grow in the thyroid gland are benign. This means they aren't cancer.
You may leave the hospital with stitches in the cut (incision) the doctor made. Your doctor will tell you if you need to come back to have these removed. You may still have a tube called a drain in your neck. Your doctor will take this out a few days after your surgery.
You may have some trouble chewing and swallowing after you go home. Your voice probably will be hoarse, and you may have trouble talking. For most people, these problems get better within 3 to 4 months, but it can take as long as a year. In some cases, this surgery causes permanent problems with chewing, speaking, or swallowing.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: March 1, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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