The office visit: Questions for surgeon
What questions should I ask my surgeon?
The first question to ask your surgeon is whether surgery is indicated. Your surgeon should be able to describe the specific reasons for surgery and discuss any possible alternatives, such as repeat biopsies, observation with repeat ultrasound in the future, etc.
If your surgery is indicated, the next question is which operation is best for you. Generally, the decision is between removing half of the gland (lobectomyLobectomy - removal of half the thyroid) or the entire gland (total thyroidectomyTotal thyroidectomy - removal of the whole thyroid). Your surgeon should explain the reasons for one choice versus the other. You may also ask whether a frozen sectionFrozen section - tissue taken during an operation that is given to the pathologist to evaluate the thyroid lobe and make a preliminary diagnosis while the patient is still on the operating room table will be performed during the operation. You should ask your surgeon if lymph nodes will be removed or biopsied.
You should be comfortable with your surgeon and feel confident that you are in good hands. Some patients find it useful to ask their surgeon "How many of these operations do you do each year?" It is a good idea to have your operation performed by a surgeon with considerable experience in thyroid surgery (usually that means at least 50 thyroid operations/year).
Some other questions include:
- What are the risks of the surgery, and what are the chances of having a complication?
- Am I going to need to take thyroid replacement pills after the surgery?
- What kind of anesthesia will be used?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- How long will the recovery be after the surgery?
- Will I need pain medicine after surgery?
- When can I shower after surgery?
- When will I be able to go back to work and do all normal activities?
- When will I be able to drive a car?
- Will I have any blood tests performed after the surgery?
- Will I need to take calcium supplements?
- Will there be problems with swallowing, breathing, or hoarseness of the voice?