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Chirurg. 2014 Mar;85(3):236-45. doi: 10.1007/s00104-013-2705-7.

[Surgery for benign goiter in Germany: fewer operations, changed resectional strategy, fewer complications].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Universitätsklinik für Allgemein-, Viszeral- und Gefäßchirurgie, Universitätsklinikum Halle, Medizinische Fakultät der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Ernst-Grube-Str. 40, 06120, Halle (Saale), Deutschland,



The increase of certain operations in the wake of the introduction of the German Diagnosis-Related Groups (G-DRG) system rekindled debate on the risk-benefit profile of what is widely being perceived as a too high number of thyroidectomies for benign goiter in Germany.


The numbers of thyroidectomy for benign goiter from 2005-2011 were obtained from the Federal Bureau of Statistics ("Statistisches Bundesamt"). For the purpose of the study, the following operation and procedure key (OPS) codes were selected: hemithyroidectomy (OPS code 5-061); partial thyroid resection (OPS code 5-062); total thyroidectomy (OPS code 5-063); and thyroid surgeries via sternotomy (OPS code 5-064). The rates of permanent hypoparathyroidism and vocal cord palsy were calculated based on two prospective multicenter evaluation studies conducted in 1998-2001 (PETS 1) and 2010-2013 (PETS 2) in Germany.


Between 2005 and 2011, the number of thyroidectomies for benign thyroid goiter decreased by 8 %, and the age-standardized surgery rate decreased by 6 % in men (2005: 599 per 1 million; 2011: 565 per 1 million) and 11 % in women (2005: 1641 per 1 million; 2011: 1463 per 1 million). At the same time, the rates of partial and subtotal thyroidectomy decreased by 59 % in men and 64 % in women, whereas the rates of hemithyroidectomy and total thyroidectomy increased by 65 % (113 %) in men and 42 % (97 %) in women. Despite a greater proportion of thyroidectomies over time, the approximated rates for postoperative hypoparathyroidism were reduced from 2.98 to 0.83 % and for postoperative vocal cord palsy from 1.06 to 0.86 %. Irrespective of that decline, either complication was more frequent after total than after subtotal thyroidectomy.


The total number of thyroid surgeries due to benign goiter has decreased substantially in Germany from 2005 through 2011. Despite changes in the resectional strategy with an increase in the total number thyroidectomies and a decrease of subtotal resections, the rates for postoperative hypoparathyroidism and vocal cord palsy have decreased. The complication rates for total thyroidectomy, however, are still higher compared to subtotal resection. An individualized risk-oriented surgical approach is warranted.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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