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Thyroid & Parathyroid Gland Disease

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The thyroid gland, the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck, manufactures hormones that regulate many functions throughout the body, including the heart, blood pressure, body temperature and metabolism. These hormones help control every cell in the body, and it’s critical that the gland work effectively. If not, it can impact growth and development and cause dangerous imbalances in crucial organ systems.

What is Your Parathyroid?

The parathyroid glands are also at the front of the neck at the four corners of the thyroid. They produce a parathyroid hormone (PTH). It keeps the calcium balanced in the intestines, kidneys and bones. It also controls the production of vitamin D3. This delicate balance of calcium and D3 keeps the body functioning properly. If there is too much calcium released into the bloodstream, you can develop a condition known as hyperparathyroidism. This can result in bone loss, a breakdown in muscles and the nervous system, and kidney dysfunction.

When the thyroid or parathyroid glands are not working properly and cannot be controlled through medication, or if a tumor is present, surgery can correct the problem. In both cases, WakeMed offers minimally invasive surgeries that are easier on patients. You will undergo a shorter surgery, have a smaller incision and will recover more quickly.


The primary reason for removing your thyroid gland is due to a mass – either a large benign growth or suspected cancerous nodule, a goiter or overactive thyroid. In most cases, these masses can cause difficulty in swallowing or breathing and even result in the thyroid not functioning properly. WakeMed ENT surgeons can remove the gland and accompanying growths using a minimally invasive procedure that reduces the incision size from traditional open surgery.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia using an endoscope to direct the surgeon to the gland. Instruments are inserted alongside the scope through a tiny incision – usually no more than one- inch long – and the gland is removed. The procedure takes about two to two-and-a-half hours. The incision is covered with a protective tape, and patients normally are hospitalized overnight. Some patients may be discharged within 23 hours.

Learn What to Expect from Thyroidectomy


In the past, parathyroid surgery was done as an open procedure, where all four of the glands were exposed and evaluated for removal. Now, your surgeon will order an ultrasound to locate the optimal site for the surgery. Under light anesthesia – sometimes a local numbing medication and a relaxant - the surgeon makes a tiny incision at the site of the diseased parathyroid gland. The gland is removed, and the site is closed using absorbable stitches. It is covered with a steri-strip (surgical tape that protects the site).The procedure is quick, taking about 20 to 30 minutes. You most likely will be able to go home within a few hours. Remember to bring a driver as you cannot drive home after surgery.

Learn What to Expect from Parathyroidectomy