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Large goiters and postoperative complications: does it really matter?

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Thyroidectomy is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures worldwide. Although the mortality rate is currently approaching 0%, the incidence of complications in such a frequent surgery is not insignificant. The most frequent are postoperative hypoparathyroidism, recurrent injury, and asphyxial hematoma. The size of the thyroid gland has traditionally been considered one of the most important risk factors, but there is currently no study that analyzes it independently. The objective of this study is to analyze whether the size of the thyroid gland is an isolated risk factor for the development of postoperative complications.

Patients and method

A prospective review of all patients who underwent total thyroidectomy at a third-level hospital between January 2019 and December 2021 was conducted. The thyroid volume was calculated preoperatively using ultrasound and, together with the weight of the definitive piece, was correlated with the development of postoperative complications.


One hundred twenty-one patients were included. When analyzing the incidence of complications based on the quartiles of weight and glandular volume, there were no significant differences in the incidence of transient or permanent hypoparathyroidism in any of the groups. No differences were found in terms of recurrent paralysis. No fewer parathyroid glands were visualized intraoperatively in patients with larger thyroid glands, nor did the number of them accidentally removed during surgery increase. In fact, a certain protective trend was observed with regard to the number of glands visualized and glandular size or in the relationship between thyroid volume and accidental gland removal, with no significant differences.


The size of the thyroid gland has not been shown to be a risk factor for the development of postoperative complications, contrary to what has traditionally been considered.

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Authors and Affiliations



Joaquín Gómez-Ramírez: design, data collection, writing, and review. Paula Cubillo Heras: design, data collection, and review. Raquel Arranz Jiménez: design, data collection, and review. Luz Divina Juez Saez: design and statistic analysis. Elisa York Pineda: design and review. Camilo Zapata Syro: design and review. Constantino Fondevila Campo: review.

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Correspondence to Joaquín Gómez-Ramírez.

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Gómez-Ramírez, J., Heras, P.C., Jiménez, R.A. et al. Large goiters and postoperative complications: does it really matter?. Langenbecks Arch Surg 408, 213 (2023).

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