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Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

What Is It?

Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland. This important gland, located in the lower front portion of the neck, produces thyroid hormone, which regulates the body's production of energy. A healthy thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly, with right and left lobes connected by a bridge called the thyroid isthmus. Depending on the reason for a thyroidectomy, all or part of the thyroid gland will be removed. The various types of thyroidectomy include:

  • Partial thyroid lobectomy (a rare procedure) Only part of one thyroid lobe is removed.

  • Thyroid lobectomy All of one thyroid lobe is removed.

  • Thyroid lobectomy with isthmusectomy All of one thyroid lobe is removed, together with the section between the two lobes (called the thyroid isthmus).

  • Subtotal thyroidectomy One thyroid lobe, the isthmus and part of the second lobe are removed.

  • Total thyroidectomy The entire thyroid gland is removed.

A thyroidectomy may be performed by using a conventional surgical approach or a newer endoscopic method done through very small incisions.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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