Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 42, Issue 11, pp 1291–1297 | Cite as

Morbidity following thyroid surgery: acceptable rates and how to manage complicated patients

  • M. N. MinutoEmail author
  • S. Reina
  • E. Monti
  • G. L. Ansaldo
  • E. Varaldo
Short Review



The endocrine surgeon and the endocrinologist should standardize how they deal with patients with an indication for thyroidectomy, as the road to surgery starts well before the operation itself. The patient should be thoroughly informed about where and how surgery will be performed, the postoperative improvements that can be expected, and the possibility and incidence of relevant complications. This short review aims at identifying the most common postoperative issues after thyroidectomy, with the relevant therapeutic suggestions.


A revision of studies reporting the morbidity of thyroid surgery, involving the largest numbers of patients.


It has been clearly demonstrated that the outcome of thyroid surgery is significantly better when the procedure is performed by an experienced surgeon. Thus, the number of thyroidectomies performed by a surgeon should drive the endocrinologist when referring a patient.


Despite the surgeon's experience, thyroidectomy is burdened by a relatively high rate of postoperative issues ranging from less severe ones to others causing significant changes in the patient’s quality of life. Minor, non-invalidating symptoms have been described in 40% of patients after thyroidectomy (e.g. hoarseness, mild dysphagia, some degree of voice alteration); however, these symptoms usually resolve within a few months of surgery, with or without early treatment. On the other hand, major postoperative complications are observed in a limited number of patients, but in these cases early diagnosis is important to provide the most appropriate postoperative treatment, and thus hasten full recovery or at least achieve the greatest possible improvement.


Thyroid surgery Thyroidectomy Morbidity Hypoparathyroidism Dysphonia Dysphagia 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Human participants and/or animals

This review does not involve human participants and/or animals.

Informed consent

This review did not need any informed consent.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Chirurgiche (DISC)Università degli Studi di GenovaGenoaItaly
  2. 2.U.O. Chirurgia 1, Dipartimento di ChirurgiaIRCCS Ospedale Policlinico San MartinoGenoaItaly
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Medicina Interna (DIMI)Università degli Studi di GenovaGenoaItaly

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