The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland that is located in the center of the neck. It sits in front of the trachea (windpipe). The thyroid gland consists of a left and a right lobe, and makes hormones which help regulate body metabolism. Thyroidectomy, or removal of a portion of the thyroid gland by surgery, is often performed for reasons such as thyroid nodules, thyroid cysts, goiter, Graves’ disease, and thyroid cancer. In most cases, surgery consists of removal of one side of the thyroid (thyroid lobectomy) or all of the thyroid (total thyroidectomy). Thyroid surgery is almost always successful when performed by an experienced endocrine surgeon. Fortunately, complications after surgery are rare, but include bleeding, low blood calcium levels, and hoarseness. Over the last 5 years, the endocrine surgeons at the University of Wisconsin have performed over 1600 thyroid operations.
The thyroid gland