Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 56–60 | Cite as

Complications of thyroid surgery

  • Diderick B. W. de Roy van Zuidewijn
  • Ilfet Songun
  • Job Kievit
  • Cornelis J. H. van de Velde
Original Articles


Background: The morbidity of thyroid surgery is low. Despite this, some authors advocate a subtotal thyroidectomy instead of a total thyroidectomy, to avoid the higher morbidity associated with a total thyroidectomy.

Methods: We retrospectively evaluated the complications of thyroid surgery in Leiden between January 1, 1982 and October 1, 1990. Three hundred forty-one patients—261 women and 80 men—had 356 operations; 15 patients were operated on twice; there were 152 total hemithyroidectomies, 3 subtotal hemithyroidectomies, 33 total thyroidectomies, 122 bilateral subtotal hemithyroidectomies, 12 combinations of total and subtotal hemithyroidectomies, and 34 other operations.

Results: Calculated for the nerves at risk (n=489), the percentage of permanent recurrent nerve lesions was 3.1 (in the 5 most recent years it was 1.2%). There was no significant difference between total or subtotal (hemi)thyroidectomies. Initial symptomatic hypocalcemia necessitating supplementation was encountered 42 times (12.5%). The occurrence of permanent symptomatic hypocalcemia (6%) was not significantly different between total and subtotal (hemi)thyroidectomies (p=0.06). The duration of surgery was 137.8 min for bilateral subtotal thyroidectomies and 182.9 min for bilateral total thyroidectomies (p<0.0001). There was no difference in blood loss between total and subtotal (hemi)thyroidectomies.

Conclusions: Because total thyroidectomy carries a risk of complications similar to that for subtotal thyroidectomy, it is not logical to avoid total resections. If the number of total resections were increased, it is anticipated that fewer reoperations, which involve a relatively high morbidity rate, would have to be performed.

Key Words

Thyroid surgery Morbidity Complications 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Surgical Oncology, Inc. 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diderick B. W. de Roy van Zuidewijn
    • 1
  • Ilfet Songun
    • 1
  • Job Kievit
    • 1
  • Cornelis J. H. van de Velde
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity HospitalLeidenthe Netherlands

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