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What is the difference between a total thyroidectomy and a lobectomy?

Understanding the Thyroid

The thyroid has two lobes—the thyroid hangs over the trachea like a dumbbell. There is a right lobe and a left lobe and a middle section called the isthmus that is all connected and hangs over your airway—the trachea.

What is a thyroidectomy?

A thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure in which all or part of the thyroid gland is removed. The thyroid gland is located in the forward part of the neck (anterior) just under the skin and below the Adam’s apple (the larynx).

A total thyroidectomy means that all of the thyroid is being removed, which is typically what is done for most thyroid cancer cases or if there is a multi-nodular goiter that is causing compressive symptoms.

There is a general consensus that total thyroidectomy is the optimal treatment for patients with thyroid cancer.

What is a thyroid lobectomy?

A thyroid lobectomy is where only one thyroid lobe is being removed—either the right lobe or the left lobe. A lobectomy is usually performed when the diagnosis of cancer is not known before the operation. If cancer is found either during (on frozen section) or after the initial operation, a total thyroidectomy is often performed.