The thyroid gland is small and soft and lives low in midline of the front of the neck, at about the level of the male collar. It is usually very difficult to feel, but if enlarged it can be visible as a lump. If it can be seen it will move upwards on swallowing. The gland consists of two halves, called the right and left lobes, joined by a narrow isthmus in the midline. The thyroid is attached to the trachea (windpipe) and close to the larynx (voicebox)
Removal of any part of the thyroid is a thyroidectomy. The whole gland can be removed, (a total thyroidectomy), alternatively one or other of the two lobes can be removed, (a total lobectomy). Partial removal is possible but repeat surgery is far more difficult and I tend to remove a whole lobe as a minimum, so I don't have to ever go back on that side.
The operation is done under general anaesthetic with windpipe protected by a tube. The incision will leave a scar which is usually about 4 to 8 centimetres long and horizontal in a neck skin crease.
The gland is removed carefully since it is highly vascular (lots of blood vessels) and close to a number of significant anatomical structures. The defect left is often drained with a small tube for 24hours.
The hospital stay is usually 2 days, being the day of surgery, going home the next.