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Auckland DHB ENT - Otorhinolaryngology (ORL)

Public Service, ENT/ Head & Neck Surgery


The thyroid gland is a small organ in the midline of the neck, just below the Adam's apple. It consists of a right and left lobe joined across the front of the trachea (windpipe) by a narrow bridge of thyroid tissue called the isthmus. The job of the thyroid gland is to make a hormone called thyroxine; the gland requires a small amount of iodine in the diet to produce thyroxine.

Thyroidectomy is performed for nodules or lumps, cancers, Goitre with compressive symptoms, Graves Disease and cysts that involve the gland. Either the whole gland (total thyroidectomy) or a single lobe (hemithyroidectomy or lobectomy) is removed. Occasionally most of the gland is removed but a small portion left behind (subtotal thyroidectomy).

Thyroid surgery is performed under general anaesthesia through a horizontal incision low down in the front of the neck. The incision can vary in length depending on the size of the thyroid gland.

There are several important structures near the thyroid gland that are at risk of injury during this type of surgery. Your surgeon will explain the risks of the operation to you.


This page was last updated at 3:37PM on August 24, 2021.