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Though popular in the past, surgical treatment for hyperthyroidism is now not done often. The following are situations in which surgical treatment may be appropriate to consider:

  • You have Graves disease and cannot tolerate anti-thyroid medicine or are not a good candidate for treatment with radioactive iodine .
  • You have a very large thyroid gland that interferes with breathing or swallowing.
  • You have a child with hyperthyroidism.
  • You are pregnant and have hyperthyroidism. (Anti-thyroid medicine is considered the first-line treatment for pregnant women.)

Surgery is a permanent cure for hyperthyroidism in 90% of cases. But, surgery may result in hypothyroidism , a condition that requires ongoing medical treatment and medicine. Uncommon complications include:

  • Vocal cord paralysis causing hoarseness
  • Bleeding
  • Infected wound site
  • Temporary low serum calcium

If you are considering surgery, be sure to choose an experienced surgeon.


Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. This gland is in the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism. The surgery may be a:

  • Total or near-total thyroidectomy—all of the thyroid is removed
  • Thyroid lobectomy or partial thyroidectomy—removal of only a part of the thyroid (the right or left lobe and/or center)

After a thyroidectomy, you may need to take daily thyroid, calcium, or vitamin D supplements.


Hyperthyroidism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 14, 2012. Accessed December 31, 2012.

Medical Guidelines for Treatment of Hypo/Hyperthyroidism. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website. Available at: Accessed December 31, 2012.

Palit TK, Miller CC, et al. The efficacy of thyoridectomy for Grave's disease. A meta-analysis. J Surg Res. 2000;90:161-165.

Way LW, Doherty GM. Current Surgical Diagnosis and Treatment. 10th ed. Appleton & Lange; 1994.

6/10/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Alhefdhi A, Mazeh H, et al. Role of postoperative vitamin D and/or calcium routine supplementation in preventing hypocalcemia after thyroidectomy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Oncologist. 2013;18(5):553-542.

Last reviewed December 2014 by Kim A. Carmichael, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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