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Thyroid Diseases

Thyroidectomy and Phrenic Nerve Damage

01/15/2010

Question:

My father has been told that he may need to undergo a thyroidectomy as he has a suspected cancerous tumour on the thyroid. We have been told about the possible risks of the procedure including damage to the laryngeal nerves however, after carrying out our own research we came across one patient whose phrenic nerve was injured causing him severe permanent breathing difficulties. Is this a common risk with such surgery?

Answer:

Phrenic nerve damage is not a common complication.  It is not normally in the region for a routine thyroidectomy unless it is a very large tumor or requires a neck dissection. 

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Response by:

Jeffrey J Sussman, MD Jeffrey J Sussman, MD
Associate Professor of Surgery, Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati