The thyroid gland (artist's rendering).
The thyroid gland is located in the neck on each side of the windpipe (trachea). It produces thyroid hormone, which regulates your metabolism or energy level. People may need their thyroid removed for the following reasons:
- Goiter: A goiter is an enlarged thyroid that may cause hoarseness and difficulty breathing and/or swallowing.
- Nodules: Most thyroid nodules are benign, but occasionally a thyroid nodule can be a cancerous tumor.
- Cancer: Treatment of thyroid cancer starts with removal of the thyroid.
- Hyperthyroidism: This is an overactive thyroid. Most cases can be treated with oral medications or radioactive iodine, but some require more urgent attention or the above treatments may not be an option. A small number of patients may have to undergo thyroidectomy.
Follow the links to the left for detailed information on the thyroidectomy procedure.