Endocrine Surgery

The endocrine organs are widespread around the body and control processes by chemicals (hormones) at a distant site.

Examples are the adrenal and pituitary glands, the testes and ovaries and the thyroid and parathyroid glands. Many of these sites and the diseases of them are specific to disciplines such as neurosurgery for the pituitary since it is located within the skull adjacent to the brain, gynaecologists for problems in the ovary and urologists for testes.

The thyroid and parathyroid glands are located (normally) in the neck and are a specialised if somewhat uncommon field of surgery. The investigation and management of these conditions is arranged in teams, so that by working with specialised radiologists, pathologists and chemical pathologists, the investigations can be fine-tuned.

Therapy of these conditions is often conservative, but may require medicines prescribed by endocrinologists or nuclear medicine specialists, or on occasion an operation.

Surgery to the thyroid and parathyroid is usually under general anaesthetic and although complex theoretically, on the whole safe and well tolerated. Side effects are very varied but usually easily controlled or rare, and information is the most pressing need.

Cancers of these glands are uncommon, but benign change is frequently encountered.