Thyroid lobectomy and isthmectomy

Surgery to remove part of your thyroid gland

About thyroid lobectomy and isthmectomy surgery

Your thyroid is a gland located at the base of your neck. It is made up of two halves, or lobes, which gives it a 'butterfly' shape. Each lobe lies on either side of your windpipe, just above your collarbone.

The thyroid is an endocrine gland, which means it makes hormones and releases them directly into you bloodstream.

A thyroid lobectomy is surgery carried out to remove one half (a lobe) of your thyroid gland. A thyroid isthmectomy is surgery to remove the central part of your thyroid gland. It is only done occasionally.

How is the procedure carried out?

Thyroid surgery is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, so you'll be asleep during the operation. The surgery usually takes about an hour, depending on your condition and how big your thyroid is.

Your endocrine surgeon will make a cut across the front of your neck, just above your collar bone.

They will carefully locate your parathyroid glands and nerves, which are attached to your voice box.

Your surgeon will then detach one half (lobectomy) or the central part (isthmectomy) of your thyroid gland and remove it.

Once complete, your surgeon will close the cut using stitches.

After partial thyroid removal surgery

You usually stay one night after surgery.

If just one half of your thyroid has been removed you won't usually need to take any hormone replacement (thyroxine) tablets.

You will need to keep the surgical cut on your neck dry for 48 hours after surgery.

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Published: 31 January 2020 | Review: 31 January 2023

Disclaimer: This information is published by Cromwell Hospital and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence and experience from over 30 years of treating patients. It has been peer reviewed by Cromwell Hospital doctors. The content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional. If you have any feedback on the content of this patient information document please email or telephone 020 7460 5901.