The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, Patient Education Site

Thyroid surgery: Anesthetic

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What is the choice of anesthetic?

Thyroid surgery is performed most commonly under general anesthesia. With general anesthesia, a breathing tube is placed into your windpipe (trachea) and you are asleep for the entire operation.

However, some surgeons use a light sedative plus regional/local anesthesia to perform thyroid surgery. This regional type of anesthesia is typically called a "cervical block" with monitored anesthesia care or "local" anesthesia. With regional/local anesthesia, your doctor will first typically give you a mild sedative through an IV (catheter in your vein) to help you stay calm, and then numbing medication (cervical block) is infiltrated into the neck area. The goal of this type of anesthesia is for you to be napping during the operation and if the surgeon needs to interact with you, they can lighten the sedation. It is similar to the "twilight" of colonoscopy. Not many surgeons are trained to do thyroid surgery under this type of anesthesia. So, if you want to proceed with this option, be sure your surgeon has done a number of thyroid surgeries with local or regional anesthesia in an experienced hospital setting.

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