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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001 Jan;127(1):61-5.

Thyroidectomy for selected patients with thyrotoxicosis.

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Department of Surgery, MetroHealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 2500 MetroHealth Dr, Cleveland, OH 44109-1998, USA.



To examine the indications for operation and the frequency, efficacy, and outcome of surgical therapy for thyrotoxicosis.


The medical records of all patients who underwent thyroidectomy between 1990 and 1998 were reviewed. Operative indications, laboratory evaluations, extent of thyroidectomy, pathologic findings, and morbidity and mortality were determined for patients with thyrotoxicosis.


Of the 347 patients who underwent thyroidectomy, 54 (16%) had thyrotoxicosis, secondary to Graves' disease (32 patients), toxic multinodular goiter (18 patients), thyroiditis (2 patients), or amiodarone (2 patients). The indications for operation were compressive symptoms or substernal extension or both (35 patients), patient preference (12 patients), thyrotoxicosis (4 patients), or a dominant nodule (3 patients). Most patients received pharmacological preparation, followed by total (32 patients), near-total (13 patients), subtotal (8 patients), or unilateral (1 patient) thyroidectomy. The initial 8 patients with Graves' disease underwent subtotal thyroidectomy, and after a mean 28-month follow-up, 1 was euthyroid; 2, hyperthyroid; and 5, hypothyroid. Associated carcinoma was present in 4 (7%) of the 54 patients. Symptomatic hypocalcemia occurred in 10 patients (19%), with a mean free thyroxine level of 60.49 +/- 16.09 pmol/L vs 40.41 +/- 19.56 pmol/L (4.70 +/- 1.25 ng/dL vs 3.14 +/- 1.52 ng/dL) in 25 patients (46%) with asymptomatic hypocalcemia (P<.05). Vocal cord paresis and a hematoma requiring operative evacuation occurred in 1 patient each. There was 1 mortality in a patient with amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis.


Massive thyroid enlargement with compressive symptoms, a dominant nodule, and patient preference are indications for surgical treatment of thyrotoxicosis. Near-total or total thyroidectomy is safe and more effective than subtotal thyroidectomy in preventing recurrence and should be considered in most patients referred for surgical treatment of thyrotoxicosis. Transient postoperative hypocalcemia is common and is related to the severity of thyrotoxicosis.

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