Surgical Removal of Thyroid Nodules

  • About thyroid surgery

    Thyroid nodules can be removed surgically with a lobectomy or a total thyroidectomy.

    In a lobectomy, the surgeon removes only the section — called a lobe — that contains the lump.

    In a total thyroidectomy, the surgeon removes the entire thyroid. The incision will be in the neck, above the collarbone; the incision length depends on the size of the thyroid. The surgeon will close the incision in a way that limits scarring. The stitches will be under the skin and won't need to be removed. Thin strips of surgical tape called STERI-STRIPS, or a liquid bonding agent called DERMABOND, close the skin.

    Watch the video below to learn more about thyroid surgery and the multidisciplinary team that will work with your child, including our surgeons and experts from CHOP's Pediatric Thyroid Center.

  • After the operation

    After surgery, your child will go to the recovery room for about an hour, then back to his regular hospital room. The head of his bed will be slightly raised for 24 hours.

    Your child will get pain medicine through an intravenous (IV) line first, then by mouth once he begins eating and drinking. His doctor may order blood tests to check his calcium levels; your child may have to take thyroid medication or calcium after his surgery.

    Your child will usually be discharged 24 to 48 hours after surgery.

  • Follow-up care after surgery to remove thyroid nodules

    You'll need to take your child back to her surgeon's office about two to three weeks after surgery for a follow-up appointment. She'll also need to see an endocrinologist, who will continue to care for her as an outpatient.

    When to call the doctor

    Please call your child's doctor's office (at Children's Hospital, call 215-590-2730) if:

    • You see any signs of infection at the incision site:
      • Swelling
      • Redness
      • Yellow or green drainage
      • Bleeding
      • Fever greater than 101.5°F
    • Your child has difficulty swallowing or breathing
    • Your child has numbness or tingling around his lips or fingertips
    • Your child's pain is not controlled by prescribed medicine
    • You have any questions or concerns