Thyroidectomy is declared a safe treatment for Graves' disease
Though it leads to hypothyroidism, full removal of the thyroid is considered a relatively safe treatment for Graves' disease, according to endocrinologists at the University of Wisconsin.
In a study published in the Journal of Surgical Research
, they noted that trading the hyperthyroidism of Graves' disease, a genetic condition that causes the gland to be overactive, for hypothyroidism ultimately has a number of positive health benefits, as long as proper post-operative treatment is provided.
The team began by monitoring the surgical treatment of Graves' disease in more than 50 patients. Their average age was 31 years, and approximately two in every five participants had a family history of diseases like hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer.
Graves' disease can cause a number of severe physical and psychological complications. Those with the condition can experience bone loss, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and even thyrotoxic crisis, a sudden escalation of symptoms including fever and delirium, the Mayo Clinic states.
To prevent these complications, doctors may prescribe radioactive iodine treatment, hormone suppressants and medications to address side effects like dry eyes and rapid heartbeat.
In the recent study, researchers aimed to determine the effectiveness of total thyroidectomy in treating persistent hyperthyroidism and improving quality of life. They found that over a nine-month follow-up period, only 6 percent of patients experienced any recurring symptoms of the disease.
Overall, there were few post-operative complications, and no participants experienced any laryngeal nerve damage during the procedures. Researchers said that although removal of the gland results in permanent hypothyroidism, this can be treated with hormone replacement therapy.
They added that hypothyroidism occurs after other procedures anyway, noting that between 20 and 60 percent of patients who receive radioactive iodine treatment develop hypothyroidism within a year.
The team concluded that a thyroidectomy can be considered a safe, viable option for individuals with Graves' disease.
Graves' disease occurs in as many as two in every 1,000 adults, according to the website Thyroid Disease Manager.