The thyroid gland is located in the lower midline portion of the neck immediately in front of the voice box and the windpipe. The thyroid gland is one of the endocrine glands of the body that secretes hormones that have a vital regulatory role in the metabolism of the body. For the most part, these hormones are responsible for metabolic functions, such as figuring out how many calories you burn. Some thyroid hormones regulate other functions though, such as a patient’s heart rhythm.
The thyroid gland frequently develops cystic or solid growths within itself that, in the majority of instances, are non-cancerous (benign) and do not require surgical removal. In a minority of cases, the growth inside the thyroid may be malignant. In these cases, the primary treatment is thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid gland). In those circumstances where the diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound or fine needle aspiration biopsy (removal of a few cells from the growth using small needles under local anesthesia and examining them under the microscope) do not definitively diagnose the growth as malignant or benign, and if malignancy is suspected, partial thyroidectomy is performed. In a partial thyroidectomy, Dr. Babajanian will remove only the portion of the thyroid gland containing the suspicious tumor, so further pathology testing and evaluation can be performed.
To ensure patients receive the most efficient, effective treatment, every attempt is made to perform minimally invasive surgery through very small and almost invisible incisions when appropriate criteria are met. Dr. Babajanian also uses intraoperative laryngeal nerve monitoring to avoid vocal cord injury during the surgery.
Recovery from thyroid surgery is generally well tolerated and easy. The downtime is quite short, ranging from a few days. Dr. Babajanian works closely with endocrinologists, radiologists and pathologists to optimize the care of their patients.
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