Thyroid surgery, known as thyroidectomy, is a procedure to remove all or part of the thyroid gland. This is done for a variety of reasons, ranging from thyroid cancer to a noncancerous enlargement. The surgical procedure varies based upon the condition that is affecting the thyroid and how much of the thyroid must be removed.
The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and rests at the base of the throat. It can be felt on examination in most cases, but normally is not visible to casual observation. If the thyroid is enlarged, it may be very noticeable, in some cases becoming the size of a golf ball. In most patients, there are four glands adjoining the thyroid gland, called the "parathyroid glands." While the name is similar to that of the thyroid, the functions of the thyroid and parathyroid are very different.