Questions foryour surgeon

Before going ahead with thyroid surgery, there are certain questions you should ask. If in doubt, consider getting a second opinion.

Make sure you fully understand the procedure; don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s important your surgeon explains the common risks and benefits, as well as those particular to your circumstances. Knowing all the relevant information is part of informed clinical consent.

What to ask your surgeon

Timing

  • How urgent is my procedure?
  • What are the likely consequences if I delay it?

The procedure

  • Are there alternatives to this procedure in my case?
  • What are the benefits of having the procedure?
  • What type of thyroid surgery do you recommend and why?
  • How much of my thyroid gland needs to be removed?
  • What happens during and after the procedure?
  • Is there anything I can do to improve the outcome?

Costs

  • What are your likely out-of-pocket medical expenses? (Your surgeon should be able to give you a breakdown of any costs you’ll incur – this is known as ‘informed financial consent’) Learn about the costs

Other costs

  • Will there be additional fees for a biopsy, blood tests, urine tests, X-rays, CT scans or MRIs?
  • Will there be additional fees for an assistant surgeon?

Anaesthetist

  • Which anaesthetist do you use?
  • Do I need to meet my anaesthetist before the day of surgery?
  • Will there be an additional fee for the anaesthetist? If so, what will it be?

Preparation

  • How should I prepare for my procedure?

Surgeon’s skills

  • How many thyroid surgeries do you do each year? (A larger number tends to lead to a lower rate of complications.)
  • What percentage of patients are satisfied with the results of the thyroid surgeries you perform?
  • What’s your complication rate for this procedure?

Recovery

  • How long will I be in hospital?
  • How soon can I go back to work or travel?
  • Will I need to take thyroid hormones after the procedure? And if so, for how long?
  • Will I need to change any of my current medications after the procedure?
  • Are there any other medications that I’ll need to take?
  • Follow-up appointments (Write down any questions or concerns you want to raise with your surgeon).

Additional questions if you’re diagnosed with thyroid cancer

  • What kind of cancer is this?
  • Has it spread beyond my thyroid gland?
  • What is the stage of the cancer?
  • Do I need other tests before we can decide on treatment?
  • Is this type of thyroid cancer hereditary?
  • Will I need to see an endocrinologist?
  • How likely is it that the cancer will come back after surgery?
  • What happens if the cancer comes back?
  • What other treatments will I need in addition to surgery?
  • Will I need to have radioactive iodine therapy?

Tell your surgeon if you have any skin lesions, sores, cuts, or a raised temperature, as they’ll need to be treated before your procedure.

You can take most medication as usual, but some may interfere with your procedure. You should stop any blood thinners and herbal medications that may cause bleeding. Your surgeon will let you know which medication (if any) you should stop, and when to stop taking it.

Don’t forget to mention any complementary or herbal remedies you’re taking, as these can have interactions and side effects too.

Print out this page to take to your appointment with your surgeon.

Preparing for your surgery

Pre-operative tests and preparation

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.