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Inflammation of the thyroid gland is usually called goiter, and may require surgery to remove either part or all of the gland. If you have been diagnosed with goiter, you should have an idea of what to expect during and after the procedure so that you can prepare. Your doctor first needs to determine whether surgery is needed at all, and if so, how much of the thyroid gland to remove. Cells will be tested to find out if they are cancerous, and once any threat is removed, you can return home soon afterward to recover.
In many cases, a needle aspiration biopsy will be performed before goiter surgery so that the doctor can first determine whether such an invasive treatment is necessary. During this procedure, local anesthesia is applied to the thyroid lump, and then a hypodermic needle is inserted in order to remove some cells from it. The cells are then analyzed by the doctor to determine whether they are cancerous, in which case goiter surgery is typically necessary. Additionally, if the lump has caused the esophagus or windpipe to be constricted, it will be removed whether cancer is found in the cells or not. Symptoms of this issue include a change in voice tone, a cough, or choking while lying down.
Goiter surgery is typically done in a hospital, using general anesthesia so that you do not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure. The doctor usually decides whether to remove all or part of the thyroid gland at this time. In most cases, just the lobe that has the lump is removed, sometimes along with the isthmus, which connects the two lobes together. It is not usually known what exactly needs to be removed until you are in the operating room, though your surgeon should usually let you know just before the surgery.
Once the goiter surgery is complete, you will be given a small tube to drain the blood and other fluid from the area. It can be removed after about a day, at which point the fluids should quit accumulating and become stable. The majority of patients only need to stay in the hospital for a day or two after goiter surgery, as they can continue recovering at home. Once home, you will likely have to take thyroid hormone replacement and extra calcium, depending on what your doctor decides. Symptoms to alert your doctor about after the surgery include a fever, swelling, discharge from the site of the incision, numbness in hands, or general pain.