The Clayman Thyroid Cancer Center cannot do all thyroid cancer surgery. But it does need to be done by true expert thyroid cancer surgeons. The devastating effects of complications of thyroid cancer surgery are irreversible. A cut nerve to the voice box will not recover. Voice can be improved with time or a voice box procedures, but a paralyzed half of the voice box is permanent. Both nerves to the voice box damaged is extremely serious and frequently requires a breathing tube in the neck called a tracheostomy. Damage or removal of all parathyroid glands is a lifelong path of medications including vitamin D, calcium, or parathyroid hormone itself. Equally so, expert thyroid surgery is necessary to avoid incomplete or complications following thyroid surgery and thyroid cancer surgery. More than one in every patient that has an early stage thyroid cancer suffers from an incomplete removal of their cancer. Thyroid surgery and thyroid cancer surgery should only be performed by the most experienced thyroid surgeons.
For all of the above reasons, recurrent or persistent thyroid cancer, spread of thyroid cancer to lymph nodes, or patients requiring a total removal of the thyroid gland should only be operated upon by highly experienced and high volume thyroid cancer surgeons.
Even thyroid lobectomy should only be performed by experienced thyroid cancer surgeons because you never know when having the right surgeon there can help you avoid having the wrong surgery, a complication, or persistent disease.
- Talk To prior patients
Talk to hospital workers in the same hospital
- Operating room scrubs and nurses
- Ask other surgeons who they would go see
- Ask other hospital doctors including radiologists, anesthesiologists etc.
- Ask a trusted endocrinologist
- Find out if your surgeon is board certified
What organization (s) is your surgeon a fellow of?
- American College of Surgeons
- American Association of Endocrine Surgeons
- American Head and Neck Society
- American Association of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery
- Ask your surgeon what component of their practice is Thyroid Surgery/ Thyroid Cancer Surgery? For us, it is 100% and has been that for more than two decades.
- Ask your surgeon how many thyroid cancer surgeries they do per year.( more than 100, 200, 500 etc. Clearly the more the better)
- Ask your prospective surgeon how many thyroidectomies they have done in their career. (Read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. You get really exceptional after thousands of thyroidectomies, not hundreds!)
- Ask your surgeon what percentage of their patients are permanently hypoparathyroid following total thyroidectomy (answer should be less than 1%)
- Ask your prospective surgeon how they identify and protect the nerves to the voice box.
- Ask your surgeon if a fellow or resident will be involved in your operation. At the Thyroid Institute, all thyroid operations are performed by two of the most experienced thyroid surgeons in the world. There is never a resident, fellow or trainee. Never. Do your homework. Google search your prospective surgeon. Look at their Google reviews, Healthgrades and other reviews such as Yelp.