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Old 01-22-2010, 02:57 PM   #1
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sonjap HB User

Hello all,
For those of you who have had your thyroid removed, how did you go about selecting the surgeon? Did you just go to whoever you endocrinologist recommended? Did you talk with several surgeons before you chose?
I've read on Mary Shomon's website that you should select a surgeon who does at least 50 thyroid surgeries per year. Is this information you can usually get over the phone from the Dr.'s receptionist?
I want to chose a good one, but I'm not really sure how to go about it. My endo is recommending a plastic surgeon because he would make sure there is not much of a scar. I really don't care about a scar as long as they don't nick my vocal chords or parathyroid glands.

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Old 01-22-2010, 09:23 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Flushing,MI,USA
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sammysmomma HB User
Re: surgeons

I just asked the receptionist as I called the doctor's office. I then went and interviewed the surgeon to find out if he/she answered all of my questions and asked about surgical background, frequency rate of this particular surgery,etc. Make sure you are comfortable with this person!

Old 01-23-2010, 01:36 AM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2009
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fireweed HB User
Re: surgeons

You want a surgeon very experienced in thyroid surgery. The recurrent laryngeal nerves which connect to your vocal cords run by/behind the thyroid gland. If those nerves are nicked it can cause vocal problems (though I understand this is often temporary). In my case, the surgeon tried to salvage my right nerve but the tumor on my thyroid had encompassed it so he had to sever it - he really had hoped to save it. Also the parathyroids have to be located and salvaged in order for to retain their function. They are tiny and not always in the same place on all people from what I understand so this can be a bit tricky. From what I've heard, loss of parathyroid function can be a bit of a nightmare - they regulate the body's calcium levels. The surgeon told me in advance that he might take one of my parathyroids out, grind it up and then implant the grindings in the muscle of my shoulder where they would likely remain functional. Two parathyroid glands were extracted from surrounding tissue and left in situ, one was removed due to thyroid cancer in the area, and the fourth was indeed ground up and implanted in my shoulder. Totally weird.

Oh, and I wasn't all that concerned about the scar either (though I'd never tell a surgeon that! very proud of their work!) My scar is about 2 inches. He did an excellent job internally as well.

One last point - If your surgery is being done for thyroid cancer you want a very experienced thyroid surgeon because you want the least possible amount of residual tissue left behind as this helps in treatment. I've read where people had too much residual tissue and ended up having a secondary surgery to take care of it. If you have too much residual tissue, radioactive iodine treatment may be less effective.

Last edited by fireweed; 01-23-2010 at 01:45 AM.

Old 01-23-2010, 04:08 PM   #4
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Re: surgeons

I called an airway specialist (ENT ontrongologist) that I used for my son at a teaching hospital, and he gave me a thyroid/parthyroid specialist at that hospital. He did several thyroids a day.

I can't imagine a plastic surgeon that would do thyroids?????? They don't go that deep, and this is a very vascular area by your vocal chords, and damage is rare with an experienced surgeon, but a plastic surgeon wouldn't touch it.

I have virtually no scar, so I don't know what that endo was talking about. I am suspect and think when you find an experienced surgeon, you should ask him/her for a good endo.

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