If you or a loved one are a candidate for surgery for a thyroid adenoma, the odds are good that you have many questions. What are thyroid adenomas? What causes them? Will surgery for thyroid adenoma be effective? Here, we’ll answer these questions and others regarding this intriguing medical problem.
Type of Thyroid Adenomas
Nearly all thyroid adenomas are referred to as follicular adenomas. They are described by temperature depending on their function – either cold, warm, or hot. If an adenoma has been biopsied, it will normally be classified in accordance with its cellular content instead:
- Fetal, or Microfollicular Thyroid Adenoma – this type of adenoma consists of closely packed cells which have the potential to become microinvasive, or malignant.
- Embryonal, or Atypical Thyroid Adenoma – this type of adenoma has the potential to become malignant.
- Hürthle, or Oxyphil Thyroid Adenoma – these thyroid adenomas also have the potential to become malignant.
- Colloidal, or Macrofollicular Thyroid Adenoma – this type of adenoma is generally benign.
- Papillary Adenoma – another type of benign adenoma; this type is rarely encountered.
Thyroid adenomas are different from multinodular goitres in that they are typically solitary, and in that they often result from genetic mutations or other abnormalities based on genetics. Multinodular goitres are caused by an outside stimulus; for example, iodine deficiency. Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you have regarding the thyroid adenoma you have been diagnosed with. After surgery, the thyroid adenoma will be carefully examined by a pathologist to ensure that it is neither invasive nor malignant.
Thyroid Adenoma Symptoms
Sometimes, thyroid adenomas produce no noticeable symptoms or only mild symptoms; these types of adenomas are respectively referred to as “cold” and “warm” adenomas. Functional tumors which produce an excess of thyroid hormone are referred to as “hot” adenomas; sometimes they are referred to as toxic thyroid adenomas. Patients with this type of thyroid adenoma often suffer from hyperthyroidism.
Sometimes, thyroid adenomas can be seen or felt; normally, they are diagnosed when they reach a size of about 3 centimeters; some of the largest, though reach a diameter of about 10 centimeters. Most thyroid adenomas are sphere shaped.
Surgery for Thyroid Adenoma
Many patients diagnosed with thyroid adenoma choose to undergo surgical treatment rather than suffer the stress that can come with watchful waiting. The surgical procedure is not without risks inherent to all surgeries; however, thyroid adenoma surgery is a fairly simple procedure.
The thyroid is easily accessed via the neck, and in most cases, your surgeon will be able to make his or her incision in one of your neck’s natural folds, where the resulting scar will be well-hidden and will not be terribly noticeable once the redness that immediately follows surgery fades. In some cases, a complete thyroidectomy is called for; in other cases, you may need only a partial thyroid removal, or hemi-thyroidectomy. While your doctor will have a good idea of your prognosis prior to the surgery, complete prognosis can normally be provided only after the surgery has been completed.
Recovery time varies from one patient to the next; most people take at least a week off work to recover, since speaking, swallowing, and even breathing can sometimes cause discomfort, and as prescription pain medication to alleviate this discomfort can cause drowsiness which can compromise work performance. Long-term, you may be prescribed a hormone replacement, and you will need to have your thyroid levels monitored to ensure stability is achieved. Blood calcium levels are sometimes affected as well – if so, you will need to take additional calcium supplements for at least a short time following surgery.