Skip to Main Content


Key Points

  • image There has been a paradigm shift in the surgical management of Graves’ disease with increased use of total or near-total thyroidectomy, rather than subtotal thyroidectomy.

  • image Familial nonmedullary thyroid cancer is increasingly being recognized as a separate entity. Surgeons must be aware of the potential for false-negative fine-needle aspiration biopsy in this setting.

  • image Fine-needle aspiration biopsies are now classified into six groups based on the risk of malignancy associated with each group (Bethesda criteria).

  • image Encapsulated follicular variants of papillary thyroid cancers are now designated noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features (NIFTP).

  • image Lobectomy or total/near-total thyroidectomy are considered appropriate treatments for low-risk thyroid cancers. Some small papillary thyroid cancers (<1 cm) can be followed with active surveillance.

  • image Focused mini-incision parathyroidectomy, after appropriate localization, has become the procedure of choice for the treatment of sporadic primary hyperparathyroidism.

  • image Parathyroidectomy has been shown to improve the classic and the so-called nonspecific symptoms and metabolic complications of primary hyperparathyroidism.

  • image Normocalcemic hyperparathyroidism is being increasingly recognized; however, there are no definitive guidelines for management.

  • image Very high calcium and parathyroid hormone levels in a patient with primary hyperparathyroidism should alert the surgeon to the presence of a possible parathyroid carcinoma.

  • image Subclinical Cushing’s syndrome is characterized by subtle abnormalities in corticosteroid synthesis, and many of its manifestations appear to be treated by adrenalectomy.

  • image Fine-needle aspiration biopsy has a very limited role in the evaluation of adrenal incidentalomas unless the patient has previously had a cancer and should only be performed after appropriate biochemical studies have been performed to rule out pheochromocytoma.

  • image Laparoscopic adrenalectomy has become the procedure of choice for excision of most adrenal lesions, except known or suspected cancers.


Historical Background

Goiters (from the Latin guttur, throat), defined as an enlargement of the thyroid, have been recognized since 2700 B.C. even though the thyroid gland was not documented as such until the Renaissance period. In 1619, Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente recognized that goiters arose from the thyroid gland. The term thyroid gland (Greek thyreoeides, shield-shaped) is, however, attributed to Thomas Wharton in his Adenographia (1656). In 1776, the thyroid was classified as a ductless gland by Albrecht von Haller and was thought to have numerous functions ranging from lubrication of the larynx to acting as a reservoir for blood to provide continuous flow to the brain, and to beautifying women’s necks. Burnt seaweed was considered to be the most effective treatment for goiters.

The first accounts of thyroid surgery for the treatment of goiters were given by Roger Frugardi in 1170. In response to failure of medical treatment, two setons were inserted at right angles into the goiter and tightened twice daily until the goiter separated. The open wound was treated with caustic powder and left to heal. However, thyroid surgery continued to be hazardous with prohibitive mortality rates (>40%) until the latter ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.