The Swiss1Chirurgie team has many years of surgical experience in thyroid surgery. In cooperation with our partners and with a lot of passion, we offer comprehensive assessment and therapy of the various thyroid diseases.
The thyroid gland is an organ about 5cm in size, it weighs between 18 and 20 grams and is located below the larynx.
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones (thyroxine, T4 for short, and triiodothyronine, T3 for short). These act on many different organs in the human body and function as a kind of accelerator of the metabolism. Disorders of the thyroid gland can trigger many different symptoms accordingly. The thyroid gland needs sufficient iodine to produce thyroid hormones.
The 4 small parathyroid glands are located directly next to the thyroid gland and are important for bone metabolism.
What are the different thyroid diseases?
Thyroid diseases are very common, affecting about 5-10% of the population. Often these are disorders of hormone production, which can lead to hypo- or hyperthyroidism. There are also benign and rarely malignant enlargements of the thyroid gland.
If the thyroid is underactive, too few hormones are produced. This leads to fatigue, weight gain, feeling cold or a low pulse. Dry skin and brittle hair are also typical signs.
In the case of hyperfunction, too many hormones are released. This leads to the opposite symptoms, i.e. sweating, weight loss, nervousness or palpitations.
Hyperthyroidism can often lead to an enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Possible causes of dysfunction include infection, autoimmune diseases or iodine deficiency.
Enlarged thyroid glands and thyroid nodules
Often there is a nodulation of the thyroid gland. These can occur individually or affect the whole organ. This also enlarges the thyroid gland. We then speak of a goiter(formerly goitre). The main cause is an iodine deficiency. Since many foods today are enriched with iodine (e.g. our table salt), strumen is no longer as common as it used to be.
Thyroid glands can also be malignantly enlarged, which is thyroid cancer. This is much rarer than benign enlargement. The prognosis is much better than for many other cancers. Nevertheless, an early diagnosis is of course important in order to be able to initiate a rapid therapy.
How do you diagnose thyroid disease?
Diagnosis always includes a laboratory examination of the thyroid hormones in the blood as well as an ultrasound examination in the case of corresponding symptoms or enlargement of the thyroid gland. Depending on the disease, further examinations such as scintigraphy (examination of the metabolic function of the thyroid gland), a fine needle aspiration to obtain tissue, a computer tomography or, rarely, a magnetic resonance examination are also performed.
When does surgery need to be performed?
Thyroid dysfunction can often be treated with medication. However, in the case of thyroid enlargement or uncontrollable dysfunction, surgery is often necessary.
Surgery is also often advisable for goitre, especially in the case of mechanical impairment. A large goiter can lead to shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing or voice changes. In the case of thyroid cancer or even an urgent suspicion of a malignant change, surgery should always be performed immediately.
What does thyroid surgery look like?
The operation begins with a transverse skin incision in the lower neck. Then you get to the thyroid gland between the short neck muscles. The organ has the shape of a butterfly. We always operate with magnifying glasses, so that the very fine structures are clearly visible. Injury to the vocal cord nerve located directly below the thyroid gland must be avoided at all costs. For this we use neuromonitoring, which makes the nerve signal audible. The four very small parathyroid glands adjacent to the thyroid gland should also always be spared.
If only one side of the thyroid gland is enlarged or diseased, surgery on one side is sufficient. This involves removing all the thyroid tissue on one side. If both sides are affected, the whole organ must be removed. With unilateral surgery, there is still normal hormone function. In the case of bilateral surgery, the thyroid hormones must be taken in tablet form afterwards. This is very simple. The hormones must then be checked every 6 -12 months.
A thyroid operation takes 1.5-3 hours, the hospital stay afterwards 2-3 days.
We look forward to being able to advise you in our consultation hours.
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