According to a recent study performed by researchers at New York University, only a minority of patients who undergo a thyroidectomy are offered voice therapy. The research team, who reviewed data from the Thyroid Cancer Survivors Association, noted that voice problems following surgery to remove the thyroid gland is a common problem.
What is a thyroidectomy?
A thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of all (or part of) the thyroid gland. Thyroid surgery may be necessary to treat thyroid cancer, large goiters that are causing symptoms, or certain types of hyperthyroidism. Thyroid surgery is made safer by using a larngeal (voice box) nerve monitoring device. This is especially useful in patients who have previously had surgery in this area of the neck, or when the risk of injury to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) is high due to the location of the cancer.
Fortunately, endoscopic surgical techniques allow experienced surgeons to take a minimally invasive approach, leaving an almost invisible scar when the incision is closed. The endoscope not only minimizes the scar and trauma to the tissue, but also magnifies the tissue so that the laryngeal nerve and parathyroid glands are well visualized.
Although a thyroidectomy is considered to be a very safe and effective procedure, especially when performed by renowned surgeons like Dr. Larian, post-surgical voice disorder can occasionally occur.
Most patients who develop a voice disorder after a thyroidectomy will only experience it temporarily, as almost 90% of U.S. patients will recover full vocal function with time. However, in other cases, patients may experience permanent hoarseness in their voices. Many of these patients feel as if the voice disorder has a detrimental impact on their professional and personal lives.
The Importance of Voice Therapy
Unfortunately, voice therapy, which has been proven to help, is rarely offered to patients who suffer from voice disorders as a result of a thyroidectomy. However, the discrepancy between rates of post-thyroidectomy voice disorder and its actual impact on the lives of patients ought to reassure patients when counseled about postoperative dysphonia. According to the study, out of the hundreds of individuals who identified adverse effects on their personal and professional lives, the majority suffered temporary, rather than permanent dysphonia. This, in turn, should provide some comfort to patients due to undergo thyroidectomy.
While the true and long-term impact of voice therapy is yet to be determined, several patients who took part in the study felt that it helped, perhaps suggesting that it is currently an underused option. The patient feedback announced as part of the study also suggests that voice therapy perhaps should be a natural part of post-thyroidectomy dysphonia.
Finding the Right Surgeon
Because a thyroidectomy involves such sensitive areas of the body, such as the voice box, finding an experienced and established surgeon is incredibly important. In doing so, you are likelier to avoid complications altogether. While permanent voice disorder is a fairly uncommon side-effect of thyroidectomy, you still want to make sure that you find a qualified physician for the procedure. That is why you should consult an expert, such as Dr. Larian, when considering a thyroidectomy.
If you are suffering from thyroid related conditions and think you may need thyroid surgery, schedule a consultation with Beverly Hills thyroid expert Dr. Larian by calling 310.461.0300 today!