Thyroid nodules are growths inside the thyroid gland made up of groups of abnormally reproducing cells. Although the vast majority of nodules are non-cancerous growths that don’t cause symptoms, up to 20% of thyroid nodules may contain thyroid cancer. Thyroid nodules occasionally produce excessive amounts of thyroid hormone, which can cause hyperthyroidism, but most often, thyroid nodules have no significant effect on hormone levels. When they grow, they can cause an enlarged thyroid or goiter and can result in difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, a choking sensation, and shortness of breath.
If you have nodules, your doctor will evaluate them with an ultrasound and a test to check hormone levels. They may also request a fine needle aspiration biopsy, a thyroid scan and uptake study, or a CT scan. If the thyroid nodules grow large enough or there are signs of thyroid cancer, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove a portion or all of the thyroid gland.
Scarless thyroid surgery to remove nodules
Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is the only hospital in Texas to offer scarless thyroid surgery using the transoral vestibular approach (TOVA). This minimally invasive procedure involves making small incisions in the mouth through which a surgeon uses long instruments to remove the necessary parts of the thyroid gland. If you need a partial or total thyroidectomy, ask your endocrinologist if you may be a candidate.