The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones. These hormones help the body use energy. Around the thyroid are four parathyroid glands, which also produce hormones. Parathyroid hormone helps the body control how much calcium is in the blood. Surgery may be part of the treatment plan for children with illnesses of the thyroid or parathyroid glands.
Thyroid surgery involves removing part or all of the thyroid. Parathyroid surgery involves removing one or more of the four small parathyroid glands that surround the thyroid.
Surgeons at Riley at IU Health perform thyroid and parathyroid surgery to treat:
Surgery may be right for your child if:
Surgery is typically the last treatment option for many thyroid and parathyroid conditions.
Before the procedure, your child’s doctor will give you instructions on what your child can eat and drink in the hours leading up to surgery.
When it is time to start the surgery, a pediatric anesthesiologist will give your child surgical anesthesia. This means your child will be asleep during the procedure. The anesthesiologist will monitor your child throughout the procedure.
During the procedure, the surgical team will monitor the function of nerves close to the thyroid gland. The surgeon will make a small incision in the neck. Depending on which illness is being treated with surgery, the surgeon may remove:
Thyroid and parathyroid surgery usually takes a few hours.
Your child may have a temporary drain placed near the incision in the neck to help it heal and prevent blood clots and swelling. This drain and the gauze that covers it are usually removed the next day after surgery. Your child may be hoarse or have neck pain for a short while after surgery.
Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse about when it is safe to eat and drink normally. After a short hospital stay, your child should be able to go home. Most kids can get back to their normal activities within 10 days.
After surgery, your child may need to start taking medicines that replace the hormones that the thyroid and parathyroid glands would normally produce.