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Though popular in the past, surgical treatment for hyperthyroidism is now not done often. The following are situations in which surgical treatment may be appropriate to consider:

  • You have Graves disease and cannot tolerate anti-thyroid medications or are not a good candidate for treatment with radioactive iodine.
  • You have a very large thyroid gland that interferes with breathing or swallowing.
  • You have a child with hyperthyroidism.
  • You are pregnant and have hyperthyroidism. (Anti-thyroid medication is considered the first-line treatment for pregnant women.)

Surgery is a permanent cure for hyperthyroidism in all most all cases. But, surgery may result in hypothyroidism, a condition that requires ongoing medical treatment and medicine. Uncommon complications include:

  • Hoarseness from vocal cord paralysis
  • Bleeding
  • Infected wound site
  • Temporary low serum calcium

If you are considering surgery, be sure to choose an experienced surgeon.


Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid gland. This gland is in the neck. It produces hormones that regulate metabolism. The surgery may be a:

  • Total or near-total thyroidectomy—all of the thyroid is removed
  • Thyroid lobectomy or partial thyroidectomy—removal of only a part of the thyroid (the right or left lobe and/or center)

After a thyroidectomy, you may need to take daily thyroid, calcium, or vitamin D supplements.


Hyperthyroidism (thyrotoxicosis). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: Updated May 2014. Accessed December 11, 2015.

Hyperthyroidism and thyrotoxicosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated March 21, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Palit TK, Miller CC, Miltenburg DM. The efficacy of thyoridectomy for Graves disease. A meta-analysis. J Surg Res. 2000;90(2):161-165.

6/10/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Alhefdhi A, Mazeh H, Chen H. Role of postoperative vitamin D and/or calcium routine supplementation in preventing hypocalcemia after thyroidectomy: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Oncologist. 2013;18(5):553-542.

Last reviewed December 2015 by Kim A. Carmichael, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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