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Old 06-08-2008, 02:45 PM   #1
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Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Hi. My name is Jodie and I just found this message board. It has been very helpful in relieving some of my anxiety over my upcoming surgery. I have an almost 4 cm mass on the right lobe of my thyroid. I have had two FNAs, both with undiagnostic results. They got mostly blood and blood elements both times and not enough cells to biopsy. I have also had 3 ultrasounds and 1 thyroid scan. My endo said the results of the scan raised the suspicion level, so he said I should have surgery to remove it. I met with the surgeon last Thursday and he said it definitely needs to come out. It is big and has grown. During my consultation with the surgeon, he said one of the potential risks of the surgery is damage to the nerves around the vocal cords. He said they take measures to protect the nerves, but in extreme cases, vocal cord damage happens. He said it very rarely happens, but that it is a risk. This really concerned me. Has anyone who has gone through this surgery had a problem with damaged vocal cord nerves? Out of all my concerns, this is the one that is really bugging me the most! Thank you for any help.

Jodie

Last edited by JodieF; 06-08-2008 at 03:10 PM. Reason: spelling

 
Old 06-08-2008, 03:36 PM   #2
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Smile Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Jodie,
I am so glad you found this board....I have found everyone to be helpful, kind and encouraging.

Is the plan to do a lobectomy? or to take it all? I had a the right half of my thyroid removed on May 8. I am now 4 weeks post op. I was having major hyperT sypmtoms and since surgery that is gone...thankfully. I can't say yet if I am sure that the other half of my thyroid is working yet...I will find out more on that once I have my first blood check.

For me, I did not have any trouble with my voice. The surgoen assured me that they would be very careful...but at the same did tell me it was also a risk that goes along with this surgery. My surgery took a bit longer than they expected because of where the nerve for the voice box was in relation to the area they were removing. But in the end...no problems. My voice felt weaker for awhile after surgery but that has slowly gone away.

Hope that helps...don't be afraid to ask anymore questions. There are enough of us on this board who have had either a PT or TT that someone should be able to help calm your nerves!

Good luck to you as you move forward toward surgery...
Rhonda

 
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Old 06-08-2008, 04:26 PM   #3
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

I think it's a sign of a competent surgeon that tells you of this risk--a good sign, I wouldn't want to use a surgeon that doesn't warn of risks. The normal statistic for vocal chord damage is about 1%---pretty darn low.
'
I didn't have damage. My mother in law had no damage. My friend had temporary paralysis of the vocal chord, and it came back by itself---I have also seen s couple of people on this board over the years experience the same thing over the years, and it took months, but the voice came back. There are also things surgeons can do to fix most damage if it does happen (which it won't).

The key is to put yourself in the most competent surgical hands you can find, and everything should go just right.

Best of luck for success with your surgery, and a speedy recovery!

 
Old 06-08-2008, 05:19 PM   #4
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Welcome Jodie,
I just recently had a TT this past April. I had a 6.5 cm Nodule in my right lobe and went through some of the same things you did. I had FNA that came back inconclusive. Doc's all said to have it taken out. I didn't know what to do. But in the end, I said take it all out. They even tried diagnose it via a frozen section during surgery and it still came back inconclusive. Finally the results did come back as follicular cancer and I am glad I had them take it out. But let me tell you, I did have all the same concerns as you. I was very worried about my vocal cords for I love to sing. The day I had my surgery i did not have much of a voice at all and I was scared to death. But the next day my voice was almost normal, and the next day it was pretty normal. etc. The chances of having bad damage to those vocal cords is minimal and all the doctors warn you of that risk. It is definitely their job to do so. So try not to worry too much about your vocal cords. The doctors today will work hard to keep your voice in tact.

 
Old 06-08-2008, 05:27 PM   #5
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Hi

I am 18 months post op and sadly I did have damage. My goiter was larger than expected and positioned differently than they expected and 'apparently' there was nothing she could do but cut the vocal chord nerve. I wont pretend that it was 'fine' because it wasnt. It was very scarey not knowing whether or not my voice would ever come back - each time I saw my surgeon afterwards she really didnt help much by saying 'theres not much improvement is there"!!! (silly woman!). You really dont realise how much you use your voice in your everyday life - its not just talking. I couldn't laugh or anything. I resorted to clapping my hands to get peoples attention and took a pen and paper out in a bag when I went out with mates.

There is a happy ending though - thankfully over a 6 month period things improved and, although my voice is still weak at times and gets a bit crackly, you wouldn't know I ever had a problem.

I don't mean to tell you this to scare you - merely to let you know that YES this can happen, YES it is rare, YES it is scarey if it does happen, but more importantly, if it does happen, its not the end of the world and will, more often than not, fix itself. I was told that it can take up to 12 months for the nerve endings to grow back.

My mum also had a similar experience - not as bad as mine but her voice was still effected. She too is all good now! My two aunties have also had TT's - no problems for them at all.

Good luck - you'll be fine
__________________
Rach xxxx

Total Thyroidectomy Oct 06 due to Massive Multi Nodular Goiter and Hashi
Adrenal Fatigue
180mg NTH
28mg HC
2 x Caltrate

Rach xxxx

 
Old 06-08-2008, 05:43 PM   #6
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Hi Jodie,

I know it is scary thinking of having surgery plus having a big lump in your thyroid. I have several nodules & may have to have surgery as well.

My daughter had one lobe of her thyroid removed in January for a 1.5cm follicular nodule. Because it was cancerous the surgeon went back in a month later & removed the rest of the thyroid.

All four of her parathyroids were destroyed in the surgery. So now she is struggling with the calcium issues which resulted. Her Dr. didn't look at her labs soon enough & order calcium. He also messed up on her thyroid hormones too. So now she is behind the eight ball on both of these important meds. for her recovery.

Make sure you or someone close to you checks on your calcium level after surgery & the proper action is taken. Ask what your TSH is & when or if you need to start on thyroid hormone.

Her vocal cords were not damaged. Good luck on your surgery. Fam

Last edited by famnd; 06-08-2008 at 05:44 PM.

 
Old 06-08-2008, 10:12 PM   #7
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Quote:
Originally Posted by famnd View Post
Hi Jodie,

I know it is scary thinking of having surgery plus having a big lump in your thyroid. I have several nodules & may have to have surgery as well.

My daughter had one lobe of her thyroid removed in January for a 1.5cm follicular nodule. Because it was cancerous the surgeon went back in a month later & removed the rest of the thyroid.

All four of her parathyroids were destroyed in the surgery. So now she is struggling with the calcium issues which resulted. Her Dr. didn't look at her labs soon enough & order calcium. He also messed up on her thyroid hormones too. So now she is behind the eight ball on both of these important meds. for her recovery.

Make sure you or someone close to you checks on your calcium level after surgery & the proper action is taken. Ask what your TSH is & when or if you need to start on thyroid hormone.

Her vocal cords were not damaged. Good luck on your surgery. Fam
Good advice Fam - so sorry to hear that you're daughter is struggling with her calcium as well as thyroid meds. I was in the same situation too. One of my parathyroids was removed during surgery and the others went into shock. Luckily my surgeon and Endo were on the ball with this one and monitored me very closely. I was put on Calcium straight away and my bloods were checked every 48 hours. Initially I was on 12 Caltrate and 2 Rocaltrol - it took about 4 months to wean off them and for my parathyroids to kick back in. Sadly now it seems they're not doing as good a job as they could (although a parathyroid function test came back 'normal') as I'm back on 2 Caltrate a day. Could have been a lot worse though as in your daughters case. Do you know what medication shes taking at the moment? Have they got her on high potency calcium / vit D (mine was called Rocaltrol but not sure what it would be called where you are). Each time I got prescribed it my surgeon had to phone the hospital for authorisation because its not widely available. If your daughter isn't taking something like this then get her to look into it.

Take care and the best of luck to your daughter.

Rach
__________________
Rach xxxx

Total Thyroidectomy Oct 06 due to Massive Multi Nodular Goiter and Hashi
Adrenal Fatigue
180mg NTH
28mg HC
2 x Caltrate

Rach xxxx

 
Old 06-09-2008, 10:07 AM   #8
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Quote:
Originally Posted by RMB View Post
Jodie,
I am so glad you found this board....I have found everyone to be helpful, kind and encouraging.

Is the plan to do a lobectomy? or to take it all? I had a the right half of my thyroid removed on May 8. I am now 4 weeks post op. I was having major hyperT sypmtoms and since surgery that is gone...thankfully. I can't say yet if I am sure that the other half of my thyroid is working yet...I will find out more on that once I have my first blood check.

For me, I did not have any trouble with my voice. The surgoen assured me that they would be very careful...but at the same did tell me it was also a risk that goes along with this surgery. My surgery took a bit longer than they expected because of where the nerve for the voice box was in relation to the area they were removing. But in the end...no problems. My voice felt weaker for awhile after surgery but that has slowly gone away.

Hope that helps...don't be afraid to ask anymore questions. There are enough of us on this board who have had either a PT or TT that someone should be able to help calm your nerves!

Good luck to you as you move forward toward surgery...
Rhonda

Rhonda, thank you so much for responding. I have found much comfort in reading all the replies here. The plan is to remove only the right side because the left side and the isthmus on the ultrasound appears normal. They will do a frozen section biopsy while I'm on the table and if it comes back with cancer, then they will take the whole thing. If it comes back benign or inconclusive, they will sew me up and then do further pathology on the mass. My surgeon told me, just like another poster said in this thread, that even with a benign or inconclusive result, it can still come back with a diagnosis of cancer. If that happens, I'll have to go back for another surgery. My surgeon told me that they take every measure possible to protect the vocal cords. I feel very confident with the surgeon. He has great credentials, has done a ton of this type of surgery, and everyone I asked said that he is best. So I just have to trust in him. This is just so scary for me. I am 45 years old and have never had anything wrong with me until this! My thyroid levels are normal, so I wouldn't have known I had this if my gyno hadn't detected it during a routine exam. But thinking back on it, I did have symptoms, just didn't know what it was. I was always feeling (and still do) like I had a lump and pressure in my throat. I kept thinking I was getting sick. I was always telling my husband, I think I'm getting sick, and then nothing would come of it. That was back in September when all this started. Since then, I have been fighting the insurance company to get tests, switching PCPs and getting second opinions, etc. It has been an exhausting journey. But I finally ended up with a doctor and surgeon that I feel confident in. I just hope, if it is cancer, that these past 8 months haven't done any harm. Sorry the long-winded reply and thank you for your support!
Jodie

 
Old 06-09-2008, 10:17 AM   #9
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Quote:
Originally Posted by famnd View Post
Hi Jodie,

I know it is scary thinking of having surgery plus having a big lump in your thyroid. I have several nodules & may have to have surgery as well.

My daughter had one lobe of her thyroid removed in January for a 1.5cm follicular nodule. Because it was cancerous the surgeon went back in a month later & removed the rest of the thyroid.

All four of her parathyroids were destroyed in the surgery. So now she is struggling with the calcium issues which resulted. Her Dr. didn't look at her labs soon enough & order calcium. He also messed up on her thyroid hormones too. So now she is behind the eight ball on both of these important meds. for her recovery.

Make sure you or someone close to you checks on your calcium level after surgery & the proper action is taken. Ask what your TSH is & when or if you need to start on thyroid hormone.

Her vocal cords were not damaged. Good luck on your surgery. Fam
Thank you Fam for your reply. This is all very good information for me to take to the pre-op visit with him on the 16th. He did talk about the parathyroids and the calcium levels on Thursday, but I'm going to ask him more about that when I see him on the 16th. I will make sure this is on the top of my list for my husband to check after my surgery. I'm glad your daughter's vocal cords weren't damaged during the surgery. It sounds like she had/has enough to deal with. I hope things get better for her soon!
Jodie

 
Old 06-09-2008, 10:31 AM   #10
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Quote:
Originally Posted by tygwyn View Post
Hi

I am 18 months post op and sadly I did have damage. My goiter was larger than expected and positioned differently than they expected and 'apparently' there was nothing she could do but cut the vocal chord nerve. I wont pretend that it was 'fine' because it wasnt. It was very scarey not knowing whether or not my voice would ever come back - each time I saw my surgeon afterwards she really didnt help much by saying 'theres not much improvement is there"!!! (silly woman!). You really dont realise how much you use your voice in your everyday life - its not just talking. I couldn't laugh or anything. I resorted to clapping my hands to get peoples attention and took a pen and paper out in a bag when I went out with mates.

There is a happy ending though - thankfully over a 6 month period things improved and, although my voice is still weak at times and gets a bit crackly, you wouldn't know I ever had a problem.

I don't mean to tell you this to scare you - merely to let you know that YES this can happen, YES it is rare, YES it is scarey if it does happen, but more importantly, if it does happen, its not the end of the world and will, more often than not, fix itself. I was told that it can take up to 12 months for the nerve endings to grow back.

My mum also had a similar experience - not as bad as mine but her voice was still effected. She too is all good now! My two aunties have also had TT's - no problems for them at all.

Good luck - you'll be fine
Hi. Oh, I'm so glad you had a happy ending! It's good to know that the nerves can come back and your voice restored. I thought it was a permanent situation. That really scared me. When my surgeon told me of this risk, I was in too much shock and didn't ask the questions I should have. Like, is this permanent, can your voice come back? I'm glad to hear it is rare. Thanks for the good wishes!
Jodie

 
Old 06-09-2008, 10:34 AM   #11
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoThyroid4Me View Post
Welcome Jodie,
I just recently had a TT this past April. I had a 6.5 cm Nodule in my right lobe and went through some of the same things you did. I had FNA that came back inconclusive. Doc's all said to have it taken out. I didn't know what to do. But in the end, I said take it all out. They even tried diagnose it via a frozen section during surgery and it still came back inconclusive. Finally the results did come back as follicular cancer and I am glad I had them take it out. But let me tell you, I did have all the same concerns as you. I was very worried about my vocal cords for I love to sing. The day I had my surgery i did not have much of a voice at all and I was scared to death. But the next day my voice was almost normal, and the next day it was pretty normal. etc. The chances of having bad damage to those vocal cords is minimal and all the doctors warn you of that risk. It is definitely their job to do so. So try not to worry too much about your vocal cords. The doctors today will work hard to keep your voice in tact.
Hi. Hearing your story makes feel even better about my decision to have this thing out. I don't want to take the chance that it could be cancer. I know that the only way to find out for sure is to go in there and take it out. Thank you!
Jodie

 
Old 06-09-2008, 11:22 AM   #12
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reece View Post
I think it's a sign of a competent surgeon that tells you of this risk--a good sign, I wouldn't want to use a surgeon that doesn't warn of risks. The normal statistic for vocal chord damage is about 1%---pretty darn low.
'
I didn't have damage. My mother in law had no damage. My friend had temporary paralysis of the vocal chord, and it came back by itself---I have also seen s couple of people on this board over the years experience the same thing over the years, and it took months, but the voice came back. There are also things surgeons can do to fix most damage if it does happen (which it won't).

The key is to put yourself in the most competent surgical hands you can find, and everything should go just right.

Best of luck for success with your surgery, and a speedy recovery!
Thank you for your well wishes! I agree that it is a sign of a good surgeon when he fully discloses the risks. He is a very confident surgeon, has tons of experience with this. He was even named surgeon of the year a couple of years ago for his work. That makes me feel good!

Wow, that is a very low risk. I didn't know it was that low. That is good to hear.

Jodie

 
Old 06-09-2008, 05:26 PM   #13
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Smile Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Quote:
Originally Posted by JodieF View Post
Rhonda, thank you so much for responding. I have found much comfort in reading all the replies here. The plan is to remove only the right side because the left side and the isthmus on the ultrasound appears normal. They will do a frozen section biopsy while I'm on the table and if it comes back with cancer, then they will take the whole thing. If it comes back benign or inconclusive, they will sew me up and then do further pathology on the mass. My surgeon told me, just like another poster said in this thread, that even with a benign or inconclusive result, it can still come back with a diagnosis of cancer. If that happens, I'll have to go back for another surgery. My surgeon told me that they take every measure possible to protect the vocal cords. I feel very confident with the surgeon. He has great credentials, has done a ton of this type of surgery, and everyone I asked said that he is best. So I just have to trust in him. This is just so scary for me. I am 45 years old and have never had anything wrong with me until this! My thyroid levels are normal, so I wouldn't have known I had this if my gyno hadn't detected it during a routine exam. But thinking back on it, I did have symptoms, just didn't know what it was. I was always feeling (and still do) like I had a lump and pressure in my throat. I kept thinking I was getting sick. I was always telling my husband, I think I'm getting sick, and then nothing would come of it. That was back in September when all this started. Since then, I have been fighting the insurance company to get tests, switching PCPs and getting second opinions, etc. It has been an exhausting journey. But I finally ended up with a doctor and surgeon that I feel confident in. I just hope, if it is cancer, that these past 8 months haven't done any harm. Sorry the long-winded reply and thank you for your support!
Jodie

Jodie,
It sounds like you are well informed. I too had the right half taken out with the isthmus. The nodule that was of concern going in came back benign, however I did not come out so well with the follow up pathology report. There was an incidental find of papillary thyroid carcinoma..stage 1. It was .5 x .5 cm. So my followup will be different than planned, both the surgeon and my endo told me after the surgery not to be overly concerned about it at this point. When I have my follow up appointment with the endo I will know more of the plan. Makes me a bit nervous.

I was having symptoms but did not realize it was thyroid. I thought it was stress related! My dentist actually told me my thyroid was swollen and suggested I see my doctor. I'm so glad he did find it because I don't know how long I would have continuued to let myself feel bad...

I like you had never been sick or in the hospital other than to have babies...so this was quite a shock to me and cause me to really rethink taking my health for granted....

Rhonda

 
Old 06-09-2008, 05:42 PM   #14
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mistygreen HB User
Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Hi Jodie, wishing you all the best on June 20th. Hoping you have a good outcome, and feel better very soon.

Last edited by mistygreen; 06-09-2008 at 06:36 PM.

 
Old 06-09-2008, 07:56 PM   #15
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Re: Thyroid Surgery June 20th - question/concern

Quote:
Originally Posted by JodieF View Post
Hi. My name is Jodie and I just found this message board. It has been very helpful in relieving some of my anxiety over my upcoming surgery. I have an almost 4 cm mass on the right lobe of my thyroid. I have had two FNAs, both with undiagnostic results. They got mostly blood and blood elements both times and not enough cells to biopsy. I have also had 3 ultrasounds and 1 thyroid scan. My endo said the results of the scan raised the suspicion level, so he said I should have surgery to remove it. I met with the surgeon last Thursday and he said it definitely needs to come out. It is big and has grown. During my consultation with the surgeon, he said one of the potential risks of the surgery is damage to the nerves around the vocal cords. He said they take measures to protect the nerves, but in extreme cases, vocal cord damage happens. He said it very rarely happens, but that it is a risk. This really concerned me. Has anyone who has gone through this surgery had a problem with damaged vocal cord nerves? Out of all my concerns, this is the one that is really bugging me the most! Thank you for any help.

Jodie

Welcome to the boards Jodie. I hope you find them as helpful and beneficial as I have. In 1998 I had a right lobectomy as a result of a tumor that FNA results were inconclusive and I had already had cancer twice. Therefore the doctors said it needed to come out. Thankfully the tumor was benign but I will tell you that I did have damage to my voice. I loved to sing and was very good at it. I was in the show choir at school, concert choir, and church choir, musicals, I did special musice for a number of occasions, etc. and unfortunately my voice was perminately damaged. It wasn't severe to the point that I can't verbally communicate but my singing voice was ruined. I sound very airy when I sing now and the year after I had the surgery I didn't even make the show choir. Unfortunately the damage that was done has been permanent, but it is extremely rare for this to happen, especially with just a lobectomy.

Good luck with everything!
Hang in there, don't stress, and I hope you find the boards very helpful!

Cardshark

 
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