The thyroid is a small endocrine gland found just above the collarbone, which is responsible for producing hormones that control your body’s metabolism. Thyroid diseases are very common in the United States, and they affect millions of Americans of all ages and races.
Certain disorders can cause the thyroid gland to make more hormones than the body needs (overactive) or not enough (underactive).
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid produces too much of a hormone, causing the body to use energy faster than it should. It can cause people to lose weight, have a quicker heart rate, and become extra sensitive to heat.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not produce enough hormones, causing the body to use energy more slowly than it should. It can cause people to gain weight unexpectedly, feel tired, and even develop a higher sensitivity to cold.
Enlarged thyroid: The thyroid gland can sometimes become enlarged, causing swelling in the neck. When this happens to the thyroid, it is referred to as a goiter. Depending on the type of goiter and its underlying cause, the thyroid could continue to make the right amount of hormones, but it could also make too much or not enough.
Thyroid nodules: Patients sometimes develop “growths” in the thyroid gland known as nodules. Most nodules do not cause symptoms. However, some can cause hyperthyroidism and others can result in difficulty swallowing or breathing. A needle biopsy is often required to determine whether a nodule is benign or cancerous.
In cases where a nodule is not easily palpated, ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (USG-FNA) can be performed. This is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that involves inserting a fine needle into the thyroid, using ultrasound scanners to guide the needle to the desired spot, and suctioning out cells from a nodule or mass in order to test them for cancer. Dr. Wallace offers USG-FNA biposy in the office.
Thyroid surgery is used to treat cancer, nodules, and sometimes hyperthyroidism. Depending on the reason for surgery, all or part of the thyroid gland may be removed.
There are many treatment options that are both safe and effective, including minimally invasive thyroidectomy. With this type of surgery, a small incision is made at the base of the neck, and endoscopic equipment is used to help guide the surgeon to the thyroid gland. Patients that undergo this surgery have smaller scars, feel less pain, and often benefit from shorter hospitals stays.
Dr. Wallace has extensive experience with new and minimally invasive techniques such as harmonic technology, nerve monitoring, and high-definition video imaging. These techniques allow for the safe removal of some or all of the thyroid gland through small incisions. They result in faster recovery and same-day discharge from the hospital for some patients.