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Br J Surg. 2004 May;91(5):569-74.

Total thyroidectomy for clinically benign disease of the thyroid gland.

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  • 1Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



The role of total thyroidectomy in the treatment of patients with benign thyroid disease remains controversial. However, this procedure may be appropriate when both thyroid lobes are involved and when the risk of recurrence is significant. This study is a review of a 15-year experience of total thyroidectomy for benign disease.


Between 1988 and 2002, 834 patients underwent total thyroidectomy for clinically benign disease at the Sydney Head and Neck Cancer Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. There were 128 men and 706 women with a mean age of 52 (range 16-91) years. Indications for surgery were euthyroid multinodular goitre (MNG), toxic MNG and Graves' disease in 730 (87.5 per cent), 57 (6.8 per cent) and 47 (5.6 per cent) respectively. A total of 74 patients had previously undergone partial thyroidectomy.


The incidence of temporary recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy was 2.3 per cent and that of temporary hypoparathyroidism 14.4 per cent. Permanent recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy occurred in 1.1 per cent, and 2.4 per cent of patients had permanent hypoparathyroidism. Neither the initial clinical diagnosis nor a history of previous treatment significantly influenced the rate of complications. The incidence of malignancy, other than incidental microscopic papillary carcinoma, was 4.6 per cent.


Total thyroidectomy has an important role in the management of patients with benign disease when both lobes of the thyroid gland are involved. This approach avoids disease recurrence and the increased risk of morbidity associated with secondary operation.

Copyright 2004 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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