The thyroid gland is a structure that lies in the lower neck, over the trachea. This gland helps control the body’s metabolism. Diseases of the thyroid are very common and usually involve the gland’s becoming either overactive or underactive. Such problems are dealt with by primary care physicians or endocrinologists. However, another common disorder of the thyroid is the presence of thyroid nodules. These cellular growths are benign in 95% of cases. The surgeons at Mass ENT can ascertain whether or not a nodule is likely to be benign via ultrasound and fine needle aspiration biopsies. Ultrasounds performed in our office are read by the radiologists at Lowell General Hospital. If a nodule is a candidate for biopsy based on standard criteria, we can proceed with an ultrasounded-guided fine needle aspiration, a biopsy technique performed in our office (under local anesthesia) and which has excellent accuracy. Mass ENT physicians perform thyroid surgery for thyroid cancer, nodules suspicious for cancer, or enlarged thyroid glands that are causing symptoms such as difficulty swallowing or airway compromise. We are experienced with the surgical techniques that allow precise dissection of the thyroid gland. Since the nerves to the vocal cords lie in close proximity to the thyroid gland, the surgeons at Mass ENT use state of the art intraoperative laryngeal nerve monitoring equipment to maximize preservation of vocal function after thyroid surgery.
Closely related to the thyroid are the parathyroid glands. These small glands lie next to the thyroid gland, with a total of four glands (two per side). The parathyroid glands regulate the body’s calcium level. Diseases of the parathyroid glands are uncommon but typically involve one or more of the glands becoming overactive, leading to elevated calcium levels from “hyperparathyroidism”. Kidney stones and loss of bone density are common side effects of this disorder. Surgery is usually required to resolve the hyperparathyroidism by removal of the enlarged gland(s). Surgeons at Mass ENT perform parathyroid surgery using the latest techniques including intraoperative nuclear medicine scanning and intraoperative parathyroid monitoring to maximize the success of finding and removing the abnormal gland(s). Similar to thyroid surgery, we also use intraoperative laryngeal monitoring to protect the integrity of the nerves to the vocal cords.
You can obtain more information on specific neck and thyroid conditions from our website and from the American Academy of Otolaryngology through our website by clicking here.