Anesthesia for Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid surgery is most commonly performed using general anesthesia. With general anesthesia, a breathing tube is placed into the trachea (airway) once you have been drifted off to sleep with IV medications. You are asleep for the entire operation. When needed, this also allows for the recurrent laryngeal nerves (responsible for vocal cord motion) and other nerves to be monitored during the case.

In some cases, light sedation along with local or regional anesthesia can be used to perform thyroid surgery. This regional type of anesthesia is typically called a “cervical block” with monitored anesthesia care or “local” anesthesia. With local or regional anesthesia, you are given a mild sedative through an IV (catheter in your vein) to help you stay calm, and then medication is infiltrated into the neck area which leads to numbness of the area. The goal of this type of anesthesia is for you to be gently napping during the operation. It is similar to the “twilight” anesthesia given during a colonoscopy.