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New Thyroid Surgeries Require Smaller Incisions

Two high-tech methods work well, study finds

FRIDAY, March 24, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Two minimally invasive techniques for removing diseased thyroids are safe and effective for many patients, a new study finds.

Both techniques use smaller neck incisions and speed patient recovery. One method is minimally invasive thyroidectomy, in which surgeons work through an incision about half the size of the usual three-to-four inch incision used in standard surgery. The other method uses an even smaller incision to provide access for a thin, ultrasonic scalpel that's guided by a tiny video camera at the tip of the instrument.

"Both work well; both have a place in a usual practice," study author Dr. David J. Terris, chairman of the department of otolaryngology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, said in a prepared statement.

Terris studied 31 patients who had minimally invasive removal of the thyroid gland, and 14 patients treated with the ultrasonic scalpel. The findings were reported in the March issue of Laryngoscope.

While most patients would prefer a less invasive method for thyroid removal, some will always require the standard approach, Terris said. This includes patients whose thyroid has grown too large to be removed through a small opening. Terris said about 30 percent of patients in his practice require the standard approach, which requires a larger incision and moving aside the underlying muscle to remove the thyroid.

The thyroid helps regulate metabolic function.

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery has more about the thyroid.

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, news release, March 15, 2006
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