Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Insurance Plans accepted

Most PPO carriers Healthcare Partners St. Mary IPA Alamitos IPA Lakewood IPA Talbert Medical Group Memorial Healthcare IPA (subspecialty contractor) Healthsmart MSO

What is Thyroid operation?

Thyroid operations are used for patients who have a variety of thyroid conditions, including both cancerous and benign (non-cancerous) thyroid nodules, large thyroid glands (goiters), and overactive thyroid glands. There are several thyroid operations that a surgeon may perform, including 1) biopsy or lumpectomy - removing a small part of the thyroid gland; 2) lobectomy - removing half of the thyroid gland; 3) removing nearly all of the thyroid gland (subtotal thyroidectomy – leaving a small amount of thyroid tissue bilaterally or near-total thyroidectomy – leaving about one gm or cm of thyroid tissue on one side); or 4) total thyroidectomy, which removes all identifiable thyroid tissue. There are specific indications for each of these operations. The main risks of a thyroid operation involve possible damage to important anatomical structures near the thyroid, primarily the parathyroid glands (which regulate calcium levels) and the recurrent and external laryngeal nerves (which control the vocal cords).

Why do I need a thyroid operation?

The most common reason patients are referred for thyroid surgery is after an evaluation for a thyroid nodule, which usually includes a fine needle aspiration biopsy (see Thyroid Nodule brochure). Surgery may be recommended for the following biopsy results: 1) cancer (papillary cancer); 2) possible cancer (follicular neoplasm); or 3) benign. Surgery may be recommended for nodules with benign biopsy results if the nodule is large, if it continues to increase in size or if it is causing symptoms (pain, difficulty swallowing, etc.). Surgery is also an option for the treatment of hyperthyroidism (see Hyperthyroidism brochure), for large and multinodular goiters and for any goiter that may be causing symptoms.

Are there other means of treatment for my enlarged thyroid gland?

Surgery is definitely required for a diagnosis of thyroid cancer or the possibility of thyroid cancer (see Thyroid Cancer brochure). If thyroid cancer has been ruled out, there may be non-surgical options for therapy depending on the diagnosis. You should discuss other options for therapy with your physician.

How should I be evaluated prior to my thyroid operation?

As for other operations, all patients considering thyroid surgery should be evaluated preoperatively with a thorough and comprehensive medical history and physical exam, including cardiopulmonary (heart) evaluation. Ordering an EKG and a chest x-ray prior to thyroidectomy for patients over 45 years of age or who are symptomatic from cardiac disease is often recommended. Blood tests are performed to determine if a bleeding disorder is present. Any patients who has had any change in voice or who have had a previous neck operation should have their vocal cord function evaluated preoperatively. This is necessary to determine whether the recurrent laryngeal nerve that supplies the vocal cord muscles is functioning normally. Finally, if the thyroid cancer diagnosis is the rare medullary thyroid cancer, it is important to evaluate patients with coexisting adrenal tumors (pheochromocytomas) and for hypercalcemia and hyperparathyroidism.