WARNING: The videos on this page show actual thyroid operations as performed by Dr. Clayman. If you are not comfortable seeing neck dissections and surgery please do not scroll any further!

These are real videos of real thyroid surgery that Dr. Clayman has captured in high definition in the management for thyroid nodules, thyroid masses, and thyroid cancer. These videos are very vivid and very high definition. You will see everything that is important. I will talk you through all of these operations and videos so that you can understand how delicate and intricate these operations are to perform. It is important for you to understand that what you are about to be able to see has not been seen by very many people including many thyroid surgeons. It takes years and thousands of operations to be able to provide this level of intricate detail in these operations. Surgeons that perform 100 or 200 of these operations per year are new to seeing this too. They will also only be seeing this level of detail for the first time, as you are seeing it. Find the best thyroid surgeon you can possibly find for your cancer or other thyroid condition. Complications of thyroid surgery may effect your quality of life for your lifetime and the wrong thyroid cancer surgery may lead to further more complicated surgery and even failure to control your cancer. Thyroid surgery is not easy and not everyone should be doing it. In fact, very few should be doing it.

You will not see anything to identify any particular individuals in these videos. There is no bleeding associated with thyroid surgery or thyroid cancer surgery, so you don’t need to be fearful of that. But if you are concerned over your ability to look at surgery, do not view these surgery videos. All of these videos are very real. My goal here is to educated patients (and physicians) into the true art of thyroid surgery. Do not assume or anticipate that this surgery is similarly performed by other surgeons in the same manner!


Thyroid Surgery Video Index
  1. Left Thyroid Lobectomy/Minimally Invasive Thyroidectomy
  2. Thyroid Cancer Spread to Lymph Nodes
  3. Tiny Discoveries During Thyroid Surgery Result in Big Changes
  4. Total Thyroidectomy and Central Neck Dissection
  5. Thyroid Cancer Saving Important Neck Anatomy
  6. Dissection of Left Vocal Cord Nerve
  7. Dissection of Right Vocal Cord Nerve
  8. Right Neck Dissection for Thyroid Cancer
  9. Complete Left Lateral Neck Dissection
  10. Removal of Substernal Goiter
  11. Thyroidectomy for Substernal Goiter
  12. Thyroid Cancer Invading Voice Box Nerve

Left Thyroid Lobectomy

Thyroid cancer surgery doesn’t always need to include removal of entire thyroid. Thyroid cancer can be cured in many people by removing only half of the thyroid, called a thyroid lobectomy. Watch this beautiful, bloodless operation where Dr. Gary Clayman removes only half of the thyroid to cure thyroid cancer. Learn more about thyroid lobectomy here.

Many patients have a thyroid operation that is too large for the size of their cancer and extent of their disease. Surgeons who are not experts at thyroid cancer surgery almost always remove the entire thyroid and this is often more surgery that the patient doesn’t need. More expert surgeons who have done thousands of thyroid cancer operations know when the patient doesn’t need the entire thyroid removed because some people only need half of their thyroid removed (a thyroid lobectomy). In a different video, Dr. Clayman shows a patient with cancer that has spread to lymph nodes so that the patient could not have the mini-thyroid operation shown in this video, they needed the entire thyroid removed. Here, Dr. Clayman shows the vocal cord nerve and the entire cancer is removed leaving the patient with the normal half of their thyroid.

In this surgery, the left half of the thyroid gland is removed. A small incision in the lower central neck is required which is a little bit more than an inch in length unless the thyroid cancer requires a longer length to allow it to be "delivered". (For example, a 4 centimeter mass will unlikely be easily removed through a 3 centimeter incision and by no means do you want to rupture or "spill" thyroid cancer at the time of surgery.)

All of the critical structures on the side of the removed thyroid lobe are maintained including both parathyroid glands (the glands that control the calcium) and the nerves that provide movement (recurrent laryngeal nerve) and sensation and tightening (external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve) to the voice box. The lymph nodes along the side and beneath the thyroid gland are also examined during this surgery to make sure that they are not cancerous as well (called the level VI and VII lymph nodes/central compartment lymph nodes). Editors note: A thyroid lobectomy is generally not recommended when there are nodules (lumps) present in both sides of the thyroid gland which are concerning or when thyroid cancer is known and has been shown to involve lymph nodes in the neck (both thyroid lobes possessing nodules).

Time: 4:35


Thyroid Cancer Spread to Lymph Nodes

Thyroid cancer surgery involves checking the lymph nodes for cancer spread. Watch the best thyroid cancer surgeon operate with near zero blood loss to remove cancerous lymph nodes during surgery for thyroid cancer. In this video, Dr. Gary Clayman shows you lymph nodes with thyroid cancer in them which must be removed to cure the thyroid cancer in this patient. See why it is so important for you to have an expert surgeon, because these lymph nodes with cancer in them can be only the size of a pin head and inexperienced surgeons often leave these in the patient and the thyroid cancer returns in a few years. Lean more about thyroid cancer spread to lymph nodes at

If you want to be cured of your thyroid cancer, you must make sure your surgeon checks all of your neck lymph nodes for thyroid cancer spread both before your surgery with a high resolution ultrasound and during your operation. You can learn the basics of thyroid cancer here.

In this operation, the lymph nodes that have the potential to capture thyroid cancer cells are found at the very beginning of the thyroid gland surgery. It is important for you to realize that these lymph nodes are very easy for me to identify during surgery but they were below the collar bone when the ultrasound was completed before the surgery. An expert surgeon needs to be able to discover these important lymph nodes during thyroid surgery. If this is not done by an expert, the thyroid gland may be removed for your thyroid cancer but the cancer containing lymph nodes will remain in your neck and disease will remain and another thyroid cancer surgery (and more difficult one) will be required. Choose your surgeon wisely so you have one and only one thyroid surgery.

Time: 0:47


Tiny Discoveries During Thyroid Surgery Result in Big Changes

Thyroid cancer spreads to lymph nodes making thyroid cancer surgery more difficult and thyroid cancer harder to cure. Watch Dr. Gary Clayman discover lymph nodes with thyroid cancer inside of them during a thyroid operation. In a previous video, we show that some thyroid cancers can be cured with removal of only half of the thyroid (a thyroid lobectomy). In this video, Dr. Clayman finds cancer spread into lymph nodes which means this patient should have their entire thyroid removed. Read more about lymph nodes with cancer.

When the cancer spreads into the lymph nodes this is called metastatic thyroid cancer to lymph nodes. Thyroid surgery must be done by a thyroid cancer expert surgeon who knows how to find these small lymph nodes, to check them for cancer spread, to adjust the thyroid cancer surgery so that the thyroid cancer patient gets the best operation to cure their cancer.

In this operation, the patient only wished to have half of her thyroid gland removed unless intraoperative findings suggested that a total thyroidectomy was indicated. There was a small papillary thyroid cancer of the left thyroid gland. Watch the video. As I begin to do a thyroid lobectomy, I identify the nerve to the voice box, the left recurrent laryngeal nerve. A very tiny fleshy lymph node, about the size of a tip of a ballpoint pen is seen lying on the left recurrent laryngeal nerve. It is sent to the pathologist, during the surgery, and examining the lymph node under a microscope found to be spread of papillary thyroid cancer. The surgery is changed to include removal of the entire thyroid gland and the remaining lymph nodes underneath and around the thyroid gland called the central compartment lymph nodes which are at risk of thyroid cancer spread. The parathyroid glands and recurrent laryngeal nerves and superior laryngeal nerves all need to be spared. The level of detail you observe in this operation allows you to examine all the critical structures that must be maintained in thyroid and thyroid cancer surgery.

Time: 4:54


Total Thyroidectomy and Central Neck Dissection

Some thyroid cancers are large or aggressive, or spread to lymph nodes in the neck requiring a larger, more technically advanced operation to cure the thyroid cancer. In this video, Dr. Gary Clayman, one of the world’s best and most famous thyroid cancer surgeons, demonstrates the removal of the tissues in the central neck along with the entire thyroid gland to cure this patient’s thyroid cancer. See the tissues of the central neck that contain lymph nodes with thyroid cancer in them. Understand why these tissues must be removed in order to remove all of the cancer. You can see the delicate vocal cord nerves and how they can be damaged by surgeons who don’t have enough experience. In fact, about 8% of people will have permanent changes to their voice when this operation is performed by non-expert thyroid cancer surgeons. You can learn more about Dr. Gary Clayman here. Learn more about surgery for thyroid cancer in lymph nodes here.

Time: 5:17


Thyroid Cancer Saving Important Neck Anatomy

Successful thyroid cancer surgery requires an experienced surgeon to recognize important nerves and other structures in the neck that must be protected from injury during the operation. Watch the world’s best thyroid cancer surgeon, Dr. Gary Clayman, identify the vocal cord nerves and parathyroid glands during a thyroid surgery for cancer. Injury to the vocal cord nerves is a terrible complication meaning the patient cannot talk normally for months, or even years after the operation. This happens very frequently when the operation is performed by less-experienced surgeons. See the parathyroid glands which control the body’s calcium. Damage to the parathyroid glands during thyroid surgery is a devastating complication that can make patients sick and miserable for the rest of their life. Dr. Gary Clayman from the Clayman Thyroid Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida is the most experienced thyroid cancer surgeon performing thyroid surgery for people from all over the world. There is no blood in this video, but please, chose the very best surgeon you can because bad things happen to good people every day because they went to their "local surgeon that does all these thyroid operations". This is usually a mistake and that surgeon is not good enough for you. See our page on how to find the best thyroid surgeon.

Time: 1:31


Dissection of Left Vocal Cord Nerve

Identifying and sparing the nerves to the voice box that control the major function of the vocal cords is part of the art of thyroid surgery. The vocal cord nerve (recurrent laryngeal nerve) is often damaged during surgery for thyroid cancer and all types of thyroid surgery. Injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (the vocal cord nerve) can be devastating, making it almost impossible to talk and difficult to drink liquids. The left recurrent laryngeal nerve is dissected out beautifully in this video by Dr. Gary Clayman showing where the nerve is located and all of the small branches to the nerve. It is important to have the most experienced surgeon you can find to perform your thyroid surgery. Surgeons who perform fewer than 200 thyroid operations per year have an incidence of damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve near 8-10 percent. Surgeons who do 500 or more thyroid operations per year (very few do this many) injure the vocal cord nerve less than 1%. The experience of your surgeon determines your chance of vocal cord injury. Do not fall for the nonsense about vocal cord nerve monitoring during the operation because nerve monitoring does NOT prevent vocal cord injury. Nerve monitoring doesn’t even decrease nerve injury. You can learn more about Dr. Gary Clayman here.

In this video, observe the identification and dissection of the left recurrent laryngeal nerve. All laryngeal nerves have branches, some may have few, some may have many. The only way to spare branches, safely, is to identify them and spare them. These nerves can even travel directly within thyroid tissue therefore removing the thyroid gland without identifying these nerves should never be considered!! Nothing is more important in thyroid surgery than the identification and careful management and preservation of these important nerves. Watch this video of the left recurrent laryngeal nerve dissection.

Time: 1:53


Dissection of Right Vocal Cord Nerve

Vocal cord injury during thyroid surgery is a very serious problem. Watch Dr. Gary Clayman dissected out the right vocal cord nerve (recurrent laryngeal nerve) during thyroid surgery. The right recurrent laryngeal nerve can be damaged during thyroid surgery; here you can see all of the tiny branches of the nerve. See our page on how to find the best thyroid surgeon.

You must choose the most experienced thyroid surgeon or the chance of injury to the vocal cord nerve is high. Patients with injury to this nerve have a hard time with their voice. They cannot talk for months and have trouble eating and drinking liquids. Identification and meticulous care of the nerves to the voice box is a critical element of every thyroid gland surgery. The right recurrent laryngeal nerve is even more variable in its anatomy and course through the neck than the left recurrent laryngeal nerve. The right recurrent laryngeal nerve will always develop some branches before it enters the voice box. Watch this video of the right recurrent laryngeal nerve being dissected in a thyroid cancer surgery.

Time: 4:21


Right Lateral Neck Dissection for Thyroid Cancer

Neck dissection for thyroid cancer is required when the cancer has spread to lymph nodes of the side of the neck (the lateral neck). In this bloodless video, Dr. Gary Clayman demonstrates how lymph nodes of the side of the neck can be removed once they get thyroid cancer spread (metastasis) into them (described more here).

It is important to remove every single lymph node that is of risk of having cancer, no matter how tiny to make sure all of the thyroid cancer is removed. This has the highest chance of curing the cancer. You can read more about thyroid cancer here.

This right neck dissection is sometimes called a modified radical neck dissection, a lateral neck dissection, or a comprehensive lateral neck dissection. It is specifically designed for the comprehensive removal of the spread of thyroid cancer to the side of the neck. It includes the lymph nodes involved with thyroid cancer but must also include those lymph nodes "at risk" of containing thyroid cancer. Sampling or "cherry picking" of lymph nodes in the neck should not be performed in the surgery of thyroid cancer!

This neck dissection removes only fatty tissue and lymph nodes at risk of spread of thyroid cancer. It is not like the neck dissection for other types of cancers of the head and neck. Surgeons that operate on tongue cancer, tonsil cancer, voice box cancer and other "head and neck cancers" may not be as familiar with the lateral neck dissection that is needed for thyroid cancer! This lateral neck dissection includes all of the areas of the lateral neck at risk of spread of thyroid cancer. All critical muscular, vascular and nerve structures are spared. Only fatty tissue, lymph nodes that possess or are at risk of possessing thyroid cancer are removed. An incision is made in the lower collar line of the neck. It will heal up beautifully for you. Watch this video to see how this comprehensive thyroid cancer neck surgery can be completed in approximately 30 minutes.

Time: 5:31


Complete Left Lateral Neck Dissection

Thyroid cancer can be cured if the operation is correct for the type of cancer. In this video, Dr. Gary Clayman shows a patient that needs the lymph nodes on the left side of the neck removed because many of these lymph nodes contain metastatic thyroid cancer. As described here, it is important that each patient get the correct amount of surgery necessary to cure the thyroid cancer and if lymph nodes in the side of the neck contain cancer, an aggressive operation needs to be performed. But as you see here, the patient will not have a big hole in their neck from this operation! The scar will be barely noticeable even when this extensive operation is performed by an expert surgeon in less than 30 minutes. You can read more about thyroid cancer and all forms of thyroid cancer surgery here.

This left neck dissection is sometimes called a lateral neck dissection, a comprehensive lateral neck dissection, or a modified radical neck dissection. It is specifically designed for the comprehensive surgery required for the spread of thyroid cancer to the side of the neck. It includes the lymph nodes involved with thyroid cancer but must also include those lymph nodes "at risk" of containing thyroid cancer. Sampling or "cherry picking" of lymph nodes in the neck should not be performed in the management of thyroid cancer!

This neck dissection removes only fatty tissue and lymph nodes at risk of spread of thyroid cancer. It is not like the neck dissection for other types of cancers of the head and neck. It includes other areas of the lateral neck at risk of spread of thyroid cancer. All critical muscular, vascular and nerve structures are spared. Only fatty tissue, lymph nodes that possess or are at risk of possessing thyroid cancer are removed. An incision is made in the lower collar line of the neck. In the left neck, there is a small vessel that drains the fatty containing fluid of the body, called chyle, into the veins of the neck. It is called the thoracic duct and it must be managed as well. Watch this video to see how this comprehensive thyroid cancer neck surgery can be completed in approximately 30 minutes.

Time: 5:45


Removal of Substernal Goiter

Thyroid goiters can be huge and can grow down into the chest (read more about thyroid goiters here). An excellent thyroid surgeon can remove these substernal thyroid goiters from the neck without cracking or splitting the chest open. Watch Dr. Gary Clayman, one of the world’s best thyroid surgeons remove a huge thyroid goiter located inside the chest through a modest neck incision. If your doctor says you need to have your chest opened so your sub-sternal thyroid goiter can be removed, then it is time to find another surgeon. Almost every sub-sternal thyroid goiter can be removed with a neck operation. In this case, a different surgeon tried to do this surgery and quit, saying the chest needed to be opened like open heart surgery to get the large goiter out. The patient was then sent to Dr. Clayman and even with all the scar tissue from the previous surgery attempt, he removed the entire substernal thyroid goiter without chest surgery. You can learn more about Dr. Gary Clayman here.

A thyroid goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland that can occur due to multiple reasons. Most thyroid goiters cause little to no symptoms and are noticed due to the eventual discovery of the enlarged thyroid gland. In this patient, she had previously undergone partial removal of her thyroid gland for her goiter, but it was incompletely removed since the surgeons were inexperienced and believed the chest needed to be opened. The thyroid goiter didn’t grow back, it was just really never removed. Her previous incision was utilized and the entire thyroid gland which was present under her sternum (breast bone) was removed. In this video, see how all the critical structures are so closely involved with the thyroid goiter and how only the most expert surgery can identify and spare all of these important nerves, parathyroid glands, and blood vessels. A patient with previous thyroid surgery should only be operated upon by the most expert of thyroid surgeons. Watch this operation and you can begin to understand why.

Time: 4:54


Thyroidectomy for Substernal Goiter

Surgery is required to remove thyroid goiters that grow into the chest. Watch Dr. Gary Clayman remove the large goiter from under the chest without cutting open the chest or sternum. Nearly 100% of thyroid goiters extending into the chest can be removed from the neck as seen in this video. Do not let your surgeons cut your chest open to get the thyroid goiter out—you need to see an expert thyroid surgeon. Read more about thyroid goiters and substernal thyroid goiters.

Goiter, in fact, means "Big Thyroid". Thyroid goiter is a condition where there is an abnormal enlargement of your thyroid gland. When you touch it, you can tell it isn't fat since it is firm and doesn't move much. Most thyroid goiters are painless, but they may produce symptoms due to their size itself. This is an example of an operation for a thyroid goiter that didn’t produce any symptoms at all. It was found on a CAT scan of a chest. The gland was very large and the patient had seen other surgeons across the country that suggested that the "chest needed to be opened" in order to remove the thyroid in the chest. Only the thyroid gland should be removed. All critical structures are preserved and you will be going home the day following this surgery following this 30 minute surgery. Watch this video demonstrating that a thyroid goiter within the chest can be easily removed through a modest and appropriate low collar thyroid incision.

Time: 3:58


Thyroid Cancer Invading Voice Box Nerve

Vocal cord nerves can be involved with thyroid cancer. The vocal cord nerve, called the voice box nerve, or recurrent laryngeal nerve controls the vocal cords and how you talk, If this nerve is injured during thyroid surgery you will lose control of the vocal cords and lose your voice.

It is very rare that a surgeon will see a patient with a normally functioning nerve to the voice box and then subsequently discover during surgery that the nerve is invaded by a thyroid cancer. In this video, this is just one such instance that was captured on video. You will see, first hand, the discovery that the thyroid cancer had invaded the nerve and the necessary steps which were required to insure that the left recurrent laryngeal nerve could be spared and the later, sacrifice of the cancer invaded "functioning" right recurrent laryngeal nerve. The nerve is then reconstructed at the end of the video. This reconstruction will not produce return of the vocal cord function but does allow near normal recovery of speaking voice in time following the operation. This video has lots of great anatomy and helps you understand how important it is to have a very experienced thyroid surgeon.

Time: 18:39