Complicanze della tiroidectomia totale: incidenza, prevenzione e trattamento.

Translated title of the contribution: Complications of total thyroidectomy: incidence, prevention and treatment

Lodovico Rosato, Nicola Avenia, Maurizio De Palma, Giuseppe Gulino, Pier Giorgio Nasi, Luciano Pezzullo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The range of indications for total thyroidectomy in the treatment of thyroid disease is steadily increasing, but any attempt to assess its real efficacy necessarily calls for a knowledge of the incidence of complications, amongst other things in order to provide the patient with complete information regarding the operation before obtaining his or her consent. Retrospective and observational analysis of 14,934 thyroidectomies performed in 42 Endocrine Surgery Units in Italy has made it possible to compare total thyroidectomy (TT) versus subtotal thyroidectomy with a bilateral remnant (ST-BR), subtotal thyroidectomy with a unilateral remnant (ST-UR) and total lobectomy-isthmectomy (TLI). The correlation between the number of total thyroidectomies and each of the other surgical procedures and the number of complications occurring with each of them was also assessed in order to quantify the effective risk of complications by determining the Odds Ratios on the basis of univariate analysis of the variables considered. The cases reviewed consisted of 9,599 TT (64%), 3,130 TLI (21%), 1,448 ST-UR (22%) and 757 ST-BR (5%); 13,023 (87%) cases were suffering from benign disease and 1,911 (13%) from malignancies. Recurrent laryngeal nerve injuries were present in 4.3% of the TT cases with 2.4% transient and 1.3% definitive (as against 3% in ST-BR and 2% in ST-UR with 1.4% and 1.1% transient, and 1% and 0.6% definitive, respectively; and 1.4% transient and 0.6% definitive in TLI). Hypocalcaemia after TT was transient in 14% and definitive in 2.2% (as against transient rates of 5% in ST-BR and ST-UR and 0.4 in TLI; and definitive hypocalcaemia in 0.6%, 0.8% and 0.07%, respectively). Haemorrhage occurred in 1.6% of TT cases (as against 2.1%, 0.5% and 0.4% in ST-BR, ST-UR and TLI, respectively). The Odds Ratios showed that TT presented a 16% higher complication rate than ST-UR which was assigned a value of 1, a 3% higher rate than ST-BR and a 5% lower rate than TLI. This greater incidence of complications with TT is attributable mainly to the greater incidence of transient hypoglycaemia and to a lesser extent to the slightly higher incidence of definitive hypoglycaemia, whereas the incidences of recurrent laryngeal nerve injuries were very similar in TT and ST-BR. Haemorrhagic complications were more frequent in ST-BR than in TT. Bearing in mind that TT is the absolute indication in the more demanding thyroid diseases (tumours, retrosternal goitre, Basedow's disease, recurrences) and in view of its fairly low complication rate, we believe that TT is a safe, reliable procedure, provided it is performed in a technically scrupulous manner. ST-BR is a technique which should be abandoned owing to the fact that its complication rate is comparable to that of TT and to the recurrences it may give rise to. ST-UR may be indicated if the surgeon is not sure of safeguarding the anatomical integrity of the recurrent nerve on one side.

Translated title of the contributionComplications of total thyroidectomy: incidence, prevention and treatment
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)635-642
Number of pages8
JournalChirurgia Italiana
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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