For patients who suffer from thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid goiters, minimally invasive thyroid surgery can be a crucial option in treating their condition. Normal thyroid surgery also has a low complication rate and is quite effective and treating thyroid-related diseases. However, there are complicating factors that may make minimally invasive surgery a better option.
The word surgery however can cause anxiety even for the most well-informed patients, so we here at the Surgery Group of LA have formulated this handy information sheet on the advantages and disadvantages of minimally invasive thyroid surgery that you can discuss with your doctor prior to any decisions about an operation.
While the incision length can vary, open or normal thyroid surgeries can require incisions anywhere from 3.5 cm (for parathyroidectomy) to 5.5 cm (for total thyroidectomy). While any surgeon will do their absolute best to minimize the incision point in any surgery, minimally invasive thyroid surgical techniques can dramatically shorten the length of the incision required for surgery. While all of these measurements are estimates, a video-assisted thyroidectomy might only require an incision of about 2 cm in length. This means a shorter recovery time and a less noticeable scar for the patient.
In general, the recovery time associated with minimally invasive surgery techniques are far lower than their open surgery counterparts. The recovery time for an open thyroidectomy can be 2-3 weeks and may require an overnight hospital stay for observation and treatment. Minimally invasive surgery has recovery times in as little as 10 days and patients can often be sent home the same day as their operation.
The main limitation of minimally invasive thyroid surgical techniques is that unfortunately not all patients can be treated using minimally invasive techniques. Generally, only patients with small thyroid glands, who do not suffer from thyroiditis, and have not had previous neck surgery or radiation treatments are eligible.
Minimally invasive thyroid surgery is also more technically complicated and demanding, and the actual operation time is much longer than its open surgery counterparts. Because minimally invasive surgery is new and not the most common procedure, your surgeon might not be as familiar with minimally invasive techniques as they are with open surgical techniques.
Minimally invasive thyroid surgical techniques can be a great way to limit post-operative pain and scarring associated with thyroid surgery. However, it is not for everyone and must be discussed clearly with your surgeon before being considered an option.