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Will I need a follow-up once my thyroid gland has been removed?

Follow Up One Week After Thyroid/Parathyroid Surgery

Dr. Kroeker sees all of her patients one week after thyroid and parathyroid surgery. At that time she will look at a patient’s vocal cords again. Dr. Kroeker looks at everyone’s vocal cords with a scope that goes in the nose using a procedure called laryngoscopy before and after surgery. This allows her to document and know whether or not the vocal cords are moving.

What to Expect in Follow Up Visit

When a patient comes for their one week post-operation appointment, Dr. Kroeker will look at their vocal cords, their incision, and she will discuss with the patient how to take care of the incision so that it will heal properly and look really nice. She will also review with her patient the final surgical pathology from the thyroid or parathyroid surgery.

Normalizing Calcium Issues

If a patient is one of the 15-20% of people who need calcium and vitamin D supplementation following a total thyroidectomy, then Dr. Kroeker will follow up with them and check their parathyroid hormone and calcium levels every couple of weeks until the patient has been weaned off of that calcium and vitamin D supplementation.

Typically, what will happen is that a patient’s parathyroid glands will start functioning again after a temporary shutdown. When they start working again, a patient’s parathyroid hormone levels normalize, and the calcium and vitamin D supplements are no longer needed. Dr. Kroeker will follow up with a patient until they show normalized calcium levels.

Adjusting Thyroid Hormone Levels

Approximately 6 weeks after thyroid surgery, the patient goes to see an endocrinologist or primary care physician who checks their thyroid hormone levels. This is important, as the thyroid hormone may need to be adjusted until a patient shows normal thyroid hormone levels. If half of the thyroid lobe was removed, there is a chance that the patient may need to start a thyroid hormone replacement pill. If the entire thyroid was removed, the current thyroid hormone dose that Dr. Kroeker prescribed after surgery may need to be adjusted at that time.

When a patient has a total thyroidectomy, then the patient now has no thyroid hormone. In this case, Dr. Kroeker will start the patient on a thyroid hormone dose, which is initially determined by a patient’s weight and monitored and adjusted from there.

Six Weeks After Thyroid Surgery

Typically, six weeks following thyroid surgery, a patient will see their endocrinologist or primary care physician to check these thyroid hormone levels and see if this is the correct dose. It is normal for this dose to be adjusted slightly on this next visit.