Scarless Thyroid Surgery!


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — The thyroid is a tiny gland in the throat that has a big impact on our health; producing hormones that are critical to metabolism, heart and digestion. When there’s a problem with the thyroid, surgery is sometimes the best option, but it’s a procedure that can leave a two-inch visible throat scar. A new technique is now making thyroid surgery invisible.

Mary Bowman is a college professor, teaching health information technology; but over the past few years, grading papers has become tougher.

“It got to be a headache, with the double vision,” Bowman told Ivanhoe.

Last year, Mary was diagnosed with Graves’ disease; a thyroid condition that causes her eyes to bulge. Finally, Mary and her doctor decided her thyroid needed to come out, but she had always been afraid she’d have a nasty scar.

Bowman continued, “He said that they had a new procedure that you go through the mouth, and I couldn’t believe it. I’m like, there’s no way.”

University of Chicago Surgeon Raymon Grogan is one of a handful of U.S. experts using the new technique.

“The first thing we do is make three small incisions on the inside of the lower lip. Those incisions are midline, and then on each corner of the mouth in order for us to gain access to the neck with laparoscopic instruments.” Raymon Grogan, MD, Director, Endocrine Surgery Research, University of Chicago explained. (Read Full Interview)

Surgeons then work underneath the skin to access the thyroid, and remove it through the incision in the mouth.

Doctor Grogan continued, “There still is a scar, it just happens to be in the inside of the mouth. Those scars on the inside of the mouth tend to heal up so well that after a year you can’t even find them.”

Mary had a sore throat for several days, but was back to work shortly after surgery. And now, feels better than ever.

“It’s done wonders for me,” Bowman stated.

Doctors say complications are rare compared to the open surgery. The procedure was first developed in Thailand. For the past 18 months, it has been offered at a handful of U.S. centers with specialized expertise.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field and Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.

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REPORT:         MB #4349

BACKGROUND: Thyroid disorders are conditions that affect the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck known as the thyroid gland. This gland plays an important role in regulating numerous metabolic processes throughout the body. Different kinds of thyroid disorders may disrupt its function or affect its structure. Specific kinds of thyroid disorders include but are not limited to hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer. In addition to medical history and physical examinations, specialized tests are used to diagnose disorders such as these. Blood tests are done to measure thyroid hormone levels and TSH. Imaging tests are common when the thyroid nodules or enlargements are present. Scans using radioactive iodine are often performed to evaluate the function of the thyroid nodules, as it is the only location in the body that takes up iodine. Treatment may include medications or surgery, in some cases.


GRAVES’ DISEASE: Graves’ disease is an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones or hyperthyroidism. A number of disorders may result in hyperthyroidism; however Graves’ is a common cause. Signs and symptoms associated with Graves’ disease can be wide- ranging and significantly influence a patient’s overall well-being. Graves’ may affect anyone, but it is most common among women and people younger than 40. Common signs and symptoms of Graves’ disease include anxiety, heat sensitivity, fine tremor in hands, weight loss, change in menstrual cycles, erectile dysfunction or reduced libido, frequent bowel movements, bulging eyes, fatigue, or rapid/irregular heartbeat. About 30 percent of people with Graves’ show some signs of a condition known as Graves’ opthalmopathy, inflammation and other immune system events affecting the muscles and tissues around the eyes.


NEW TECHNOLOGY: Standard surgery to remove the thyroid usually results in a two-inch visible throat scar. A new procedure done through the mouth is now allowing patients to leave with very minimal scarring that isn’t visible. A handful of U.S. experts are now making small incisions on the inside of the lower lip, midline and on each corner to gain access to the neck with laparoscopic instruments. Surgeons then work underneath the skin to access the thyroid and remove it through the incision in the mouth. There is still a scar, however, it’s on the inside of the mouth and sometimes it can heal so well that a year later it is not noticeable. Patients may experience a sore throat for several days, but complications are rare compared to the open surgery option. The procedure was first developed in Thailand.

(Source: Raymon Grogan, MD)


John Easton

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Doctor Q and A

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