May predictors of difficulty in thyroid surgery increase the incidence of complications? Prospective study with the proposal of a preoperative score

Valerio D'Orazi, Andrea Sacconi, Silvia Trombetta, Menelaos Karpathiotakis, Daniele Pichelli, Enrico Di Lorenzo, Alice Ortensi, Paolo Urciuoli, Marco Biffoni, Andrea Ortensi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although thyroidectomy is one of the most common surgical procedures performed worldwide, some permanent complications, despite the considerably reducing incidence, may affect dramatically the patients quality of life. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether factors identified preoperatively and expressed in a score could be predictors of major surgical difficulty during total thyroidectomy and influence the incidence of complications. Methods: A total of 164 patients who underwent total thyroidectomy were examined. For each patient we calculated a preoperative score, including seven parameters, which we evaluated to be predictors of difficulty in thyroid surgery, that is, sex, body mass index (BMI), neck length, neck extension, thyroid gland volume, thyroiditis, and increased parenchymal vascularization. The overall score was also compared with peri- and post-operative factors describing objectively the difficulty in thyroid surgery. These factors are the duration of the operation, the length of hospitalization, the incidence of complications such as hemorrhage, hypoparathyroidism, and recurrent laryngeal nerve injuries. Results: There was no statistically significant association between our score and either the percentage of postoperative complications or the length of hospitalization. The operative time was the only variable remarkably associated with the score value (p < 0.00001). Comparing the duration of the operation with each of the preoperative predictive factors, we found that none of the factors reached the value of statistical significance, but a close association could be noted with the thyroid volume and the BMI. Conclusions: In our study, predictors of difficulty in thyroidectomy did not affect morbidity rates, as suggested by previous studies, but only operative times, which were significantly increased in patients with higher score. Although our results have limited statistical significance, they allow us to confirm the fundamental role of a systematic use of optical magnification and microsurgical technique in thyroidectomy. Further studies, with a larger cohort of patients, are needed to validate our results and to formulate a universally accepted predictive score of difficulty in thyroidectomy preoperatively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116
JournalBMC Surgery
Issue numberSuppl 1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 24 2019


  • Difficult thyroidectomy
  • Predictive factors
  • Preoperative difficulty score
  • Thyroid surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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