Hyperthyroidism also known as overactive thyroid is a pathological condition in which the thyroid gland starts producing and releasing excessive thyroid hormones hampering the metabolic activity of the body. It also significantly impacts the involuntary functions like the body temperature, blood pressure, digestive system, and heart rate of the body.
In some cases if the condition remains untreated then it may lead to what is called as Thyroid Crisis which is a serious complication of hyperthyroidism and is at times fatal. While frontline treatment for hyperthyroidism is medications and radioactive iodine treatments, at times surgery may be required to treat this condition. This article gives an overview as to when surgery is required for treating hyperthyroidism.
When Do You Need Surgery to Treat Hyperthyroidism?
As stated, medications or radioactive iodine treatments suffice for treating hyperthyroidism; however in some cases physicians suggest surgery as a means to treat this condition even though this is very rare. The surgery preferred for treating hyperthyroidism is called thyroidectomy in which the thyroid gland is completely removed. This route is taken when the patient shows no improvement with the standard course of treatment with medications.
The main reasons for medication to be deemed ineffective are primarily allergies to medications or reluctance of the patient to do radioactive iodine therapy. Thyroidectomy is a relatively simple procedure but is reserved as a last resort for physicians due to risks for certain complications.
This surgery is basically reserved for much serious conditions like thyroid cancer to prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. Goiter is yet another condition where a physician would recommend surgery. The overall risk of complications due to thyroidectomy is quite minimal and may include change of voice, infection, bleeding, or injury to adjoining structures which, except for change in voice, is inherent to any surgical procedure.
Requirement for thyroid hormone supplement throughout the life may also be needed after a thyroidectomy procedure in some individuals. It should be mentioned here that in some cases where damage done to the thyroid gland is not so extensive then procedure called hemithyroidectomy may be performed in which only half of the thyroid gland is taken out or an isthmectomy procedure where only a band of tissue between the two lobes of the thyroid is taken out.
In summary, surgery for hyperthyroidism is not recommended unless the patient is allergic to medications or is hesitant to take the radioactive iodine therapy. Surgery is reserved for more complex conditions like thyroid cancer or goiter where medications are no longer effective in treating the condition.