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Head and Neck Endocrine Surgery

The thyroid and parathyroid glands are important components of the human endocrine system. They produce special chemical messengers, known as hormones, which help regulate bodily functions. The thyroid gland plays a key role in metabolism while the parathyroid glands regulates the amount of calcium within the bones and blood stream. 

Disorders of the endocrine system are relatively common and can have a variety of different effects on the way your body functions. For example, nearly 1 in 20 Americans aged 12 and older is likely to have an under-active thyroid.  At USF Health, we have the highly specialized expertise in managing these problems, allowing us to provide comprehensive surgical care.

A normal thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ, found at the base of your neck, just above the breastbone. Thyroid hormones are involved with regulating multiple body activities and thus disorders of this gland can have varied impacts, all of which significantly affect a patient's health and quality of life. 

  • Thyroid problems include:
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Thyroid nodules (lumps in the gland)
  • Thyroid goiters (An enlarged thyroid)
  • Autoimmune thyroid disease (e.g. Graves disease)
  • Thyroid cancer

Patients with hormonally thyroid disorders, will often feel unwell.  Patients with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can feel fatigued, exhibit weight gain, hair loss, and have cold intolerance.  Many other thyroid disorders, including thyroid nodules, will be asymptomatic and are often discovered during medical care for other illnesses.

At USF Health, we provide a multidisciplinary approach to thyroid disorders, coordinating your care with our endocrinology partners to ensure the most appropriate management plan. 

Thyroid diseases are diagnosed with a combination of medical history, examination, blood testing, and often ultrasound imaging. Five to eight percent of thyroid tumors may be cancerous. When a thyroid growth is identified, additional testing may be required, a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) is often recommended. This office procedure does not require anesthesia and consists of passing small needles into the nodule/s of concern. This is a quick and usually painless procedure, performed in our clinic regularly. With the results from FNAB and other tests, a treatment plan will be developed including surgery, if deemed necessary.
While many thyroid disorders can be managed with medications, in other cases, surgery will be recommended. At USF Health, our team develops a custom-tailored surgical plan for each patient. A minimally invasive operation is commonly recommended which provides our patients with a rapid recovery. We also have the highly specialized surgical skills for more extensive surgeries such as treating large thyroid goiters or certain cancers. Our surgeons are highly skilled with decades of experience providing thyroid surgery.

There are a variety of different types of thyroid cancers, but in most cases, a patient can be cured with a single surgery. In fact, even in cases with certain high-risk factors, such as cancerous lymph nodes in the neck, the outlook for patients is excellent. At USF Health, we thoroughly discuss with our patients potential cancer care options to develop a highly personalized, multidisciplinary approach to thyroid cancer. 

Services Offered:

  • Point of care thyroid ultrasound and fine needle biopsy
  • Diagnosis and treatment of thyroid nodules
  • Partial or total thyroidectomy for benign thyroid disease. 
  • Surgery for massive and substernal thyroid goiters
  • Active surveillance for low-risk thyroid cancer
  • Surgical treatment of thyroid cancer
  • Extending surgery for advanced thyroid cancers

The parathyroid glands are a group of glands that sit in the neck behind or next to the thyroid gland. We are typically born with four parathyroid glands and they produce a hormone (PTH) which regulates calcium levels in the blood and bones. Some patients develop a disorder known as primary hyperparathyroidism in which Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) and calcium levels in the blood become elevated. 

This can cause a variety of symptoms:

  • Fatigue Bone and joint pain
  • Osteoporosis (brittle bones)
  • Kidney stones
  • Confusion or memory issues

In many patients with hyperparathyroidism, minimally invasive surgery through a small incision in the neck may be recommended to remove the affected gland/glands and restore function. 

At USF Health, our surgical team uses specialized nuclear medicine imaging to identify and remove only the offending glands, preserving normal tissue and function. In most cases, parathyroid surgery is done in an outpatient setting, allowing you to go home the same evening as the procedure.