The Clayman Thyroid Center cannot do all thyroid surgery. But it does need to be done by true expert thyroid surgeons. The devastating effects of complications of thyroid surgery and 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 ten patients 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 surgeons.
Even thyroid lobectomy should only be performed by experienced thyroid surgeons because you never know when having the right surgeon there can help you avoid having the wrong surgery, a complication, or persistent disease. Fully realize that nearly one half of patients that have thyroid cancer will not know their diagnosis of thyroid cancer until following their thyroid surgery. Nearly 11% of patients with known thyroid cancer will have persistent disease in their neck following their inital thyoir operation. Cancer 1998, 83:2638-48 A National Cancer Data Base Report of 53856 Cases of Thyroid Carcinoma Treated in the US. Therefore, expert evaluation and surgery is required to know the best operation for the patient, to provide the correct operation for the patient, and to cure the patient.
- 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). All of our surgeons perform at least 500 thyroid operations per year. The far majority of surgeons that perform thyroid surgery in the United States, will not perform 500 thyroid operations in their careers.
- 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 three 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.