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Endocrine Surgery

Endocrine glands are a group of glands in the body which secrete hormones. The purpose of the secreted hormones is to evoke a specific response in other cells of the body. Hormones are secreted into the blood stream, giving them access to all other cells of the body.

Endocrine surgery is a specialized surgical field where procedures are performed on endocrine glands to achieve a hormonal or anti-hormonal effect in the body. Almost always, this entails operating to remove a tumor which has grown on or within an endocrine gland.

The most common endocrine surgery operation is removal of the thyroid (thyroidectomy), followed by parathyroid surgery (parathyroidectomy), and next is the rare operation on the adrenal gland (adrenalectomy).


Thyroidectomy is the removal of all or part of your thyroid gland, which is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck. It produces hormones that regulate every aspect of your metabolism, from your heart rate to how quickly you burn calories.

Thyroidectomy is used to treat thyroid disorders, such as cancer, noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid (goiter) and overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).

How much of your thyroid gland is removed during thyroidectomy depends on the reason for surgery. If only a portion is removed (partial thyroidectomy), your thyroid may be able to function normally after surgery. If your entire thyroid is removed (total thyroidectomy), you need daily treatment with thyroid hormone to replace your thyroid's natural function.


Parathyroid surgery, or a parathyroidectomy, removes part or all of your parathyroid glands, which are located on the outside borders of the thyroid gland in the front of the neck.

The parathyroid glands help control the levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. When over-activity of the parathyroid glands develops, it is called hyperparathyroidism. This causes increased levels of calcium in the blood. You might experience muscle weakness, premature thinning of the bones, kidney stones, decreased alertness, frequent urination, and occasional joint discomfort


You have two adrenal glands, one sitting above each of your kidneys. They produce various hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, blood sugar and other essential functions.

If a noncancerous (benign) adrenal tumor or adrenal cancer is discovered, you may require an adrenalectomy to remove the adrenal gland that has the tumor. If one adrenal gland is removed, the other takes over full function without the need for supplemental medications.

Your doctor can explain your treatment options and discuss whether an adrenalectomy is the most appropriate treatment for you.

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