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Thyroid & Parathyroid Disorders


Your thyroid gland is one of the endocrine glands that makes hormones to regulate physiological functions in your body, like metabolism (heart rate, sweating, energy consumed). The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the lower neck, below the larynx (voice box) and wraps around the front half of the trachea (windpipe). It is shaped like a bow tie, just above the collarbones, having two halves (lobes) joined by a small tissue bar (isthmus.). 


What is a thyroid disorder?

The most common thyroid problems are:


  • An overactive gland, called hyperthyroidism (e.g., Graves’ disease, toxic adenoma or toxic nodular goiter)

  • An underactive gland, called hypothyroidism (e.g., Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)

  • Thyroid enlargement due to overactivity (as in Graves’ disease) or from under-activity (as in hypothyroidism). An enlarged thyroid gland is often called a “goiter.”


Patients with a family history of thyroid cancer or who had radiation therapy to the head or neck as children for acne, adenoids or other reasons are more prone to develop thyroid malignancy. If you develop significant swelling in your neck or difficulty breathing or swallowing, you should call your surgeon or be seen in the emergency room.


Possible Treatments

Hypothyroidism treatment:

  • Thyroid hormone replacement pills


Hyperthyroidism treatment:

  • Medication to block the effects of excessive production of thyroid hormone

  • Radioactive iodine to destroy the thyroid gland

  • Surgical removal of the thyroid gland


Goiters (lumps):

  • An imaging study to determine the size, location and characteristics of any nodules within the gland. Types of imaging studies include CT or CAT scans, ultrasound or MRIs.

  • A fine-needle aspiration biopsy – a safe, relatively painless procedure. With this procedure, a hypodermic needle is passed into the lump, and tissue fluid samples containing cells are taken. Several passes with the needle may be required. Sometimes ultrasound is used to guide the needle into the nodule. There is little pain afterward and very few complications from the procedure. This test gives the doctor more information on the nature of the lump in your thyroid gland and may help to differentiate a benign from a malignant or cancerous thyroid mass.


Thyroid surgery may be required when:

  • the fine needle aspiration is reported as indeterminate, suspicious or suggestive of cancer

  • imaging shows that nodules have worrisome characteristics or that nodules are getting bigger

  • the trachea (windpipe) or esophagus are compressed because one or both lobes are very large


Historically, some thyroid nodules, including some that are malignant, have shown a reduction in size with the administration of thyroid hormone. However, this treatment, known as medical “suppression” therapy, has proven to be an unreliable treatment method.

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