Complications in Thyroid Surgery for Carcinoma: One Institution’s Surgical Experience
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the factors influencing morbidity after total thyroidectomy for carcinoma, such as the histotype, the extension of surgery, the primary surgery versus reoperation, and the surgeon’s experience.
We performed a retrospective analysis on inferior laryngeal nerve (ILN) injury and permanent hypoparathyroidism (HPT) rates in 504 consecutive patients with thyroid carcinoma who were operated on by the same surgeon from 1999 to 2006. The following parameters were assessed at univariate analysis: histotype, total thyroidectomy with or without central node dissection (level VI), primary surgery versus reoperation, and early (group 1: 1999–2002, 143 patients) and late (group 2: 2003–2006, 361 patients) experience.
The global incidence rates of ILN palsy and permanent HPT were 2.18% and 6.3%, respectively. The incidence of ILN damage after total thyroidectomy plus node dissection versus total thyroidectomy without node excision was 2.87% vs. 0.36% (p = 0.029). The incidence of permanent HPT in group 1 was 13.2% vs. 3.6% in group 2 (p = 0.0001). Moreover, the incidence rate of ILN palsy resulted higher in group 1 (2.8%) and in reoperation (3.4%), while the permanent HPT resulted higher in thyroidectomy with node dissection (6.8%) and reoperation (6.9%), although the difference was not significant.
The complications after total thyroidectomy were progressively reduced as a result of a more accurate technique. Nevertheless, our study showed that the incidence of complications is mostly related to the dissection of central lymph node (level VI) and the surgeon’s experience.
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