Your thyroid is a gland that regulates your body’s rate of metabolism. Abnormalities of the thyroid include hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. You can also have a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland), nodules, and even cancer.
The parathyroid regulates calcium levels in your blood. Abnormality of the parathyroid is called hyperparathyroidism which causes high calcium levels.
Diagnosis can include a physical exam by your doctor, blood tests, radioiodine uptake test, thyroid scan and ultrasound. If you have a suspicious nodule, you may be required to have a “fine-needle aspiration” at a hospital to determine if it is benign or cancerous.
If medical treatment has been unsuccessful, surgical removal of the thyroid or parathyroid gland under general anesthesia may be recommended. The surgeon will access your gland through a small “collar incision.” This incision is placed carefully to allow maximum visualization of the gland while giving you the smallest, least noticeable scar. Once the incision is made, great care is taken to dissect the gland from the surrounding tissue. Vocal nerves, arteries and veins lie close to this area. Once the gland has been removed, the incision is closed and a drain may be left in the incision to remove any fluid that may build up.
*Note: If the entire thyroid is removed, lifelong replacement of thyroid hormone pills will be necessary.