Fort Sanders Regional

1819 Clinch Avenue, Suite 200
Knoxville, TN 37916
Michael D. Kropilak, MD, FACS

North Knoxville Medical Center

7714 Conner Road, Suite 103
Powell, TN 37849

David J. Harrell, MD, FACS


9430 Park West Boulevard, Suite 310
Knoxville, TN 37923

William C. Gibson, MD, FACS

Thyroid & Endocrine Surgery

Your ThyroidThyroid Gland

Your thyroid is tiny, butterfly-shaped gland that controls your body’s energy level. The thyroid regulates metabolism by secreting hormones into the blood stream. It is normally located in the lower front of your neck. Your thyroid is basically your body’s thermostat for your metabolism.

Three Common Thyroid Issues

Hypothyroidism: Your thyroid gland is underactive and doesn’t produce enough hormone. Common symptoms are fatigue, feeling cold, slowed thinking, weight gain, muscle pain, brittle hair, skin and nails, and feeling depressed.

Hyperthyroidism: Your thyroid gland is overactive and produces too much hormone. Common symptoms: nervousness, irritability, feeling hot, rapid heartbeat, eye problems, weight loss and hair loss.

Nodules: Nodules are growths of tissue in the thyroid gland. Many times nodules do not cause symptoms or affect the production of thyroid hormone. Around 95 percent of the time, nodules are not cancerous.

Thyroid Surgery

Thyroid problems can often be resolved with medication. But if it doesn’t, there are surgical options. Removing part or all of the gland will resolve hyperthyroidism that doesn’t respond to medicine, although the patient must take medication to replace the lost hormones for the rest of his or her life.
Arzt tastet Lymphknoten bei Untersuchung
A second reason for surgery is if the thyroid becomes enlarged, it forms a large lump at the front of the neck, commonly called a goiter. Besides being unsightly, a goiter can push on the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow or breathe.

The third main reason for surgery is when thyroid glands develop small lumps called nodules. In rare cases these are cancerous, and in most cases the entire gland is removed. Most of these nodules have no symptoms, but are found during routine imaging tests like MRI scans for back or neck problems.

Thyroid Cancer Surgery

Removal of the whole thyroid gland and tissue is usually recommended if the thyroid nodules are cancerous. After removing a thyroid, most cancer patients will undergo a follow-up treatment of swallowing radioactive iodine pills or fluid about three to six weeks after surgery. Iodine is taken up by the thyroid cells, but not other cells in the body. This radioactive material can be detected on an imaging scan so that physicians can see where it has spread, and the radioactivity also kills the remaining cancer cells. This treatment has few side effects and is generally very successful.

Patient Resources
  • Thyroid Surgery: Information from the American Thyroid Association
  • EmPowerYourHealth.org by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) offers one-stop source for endocrine system health information, and insightful, in-depth information about common and complex endocrine and metabolic disorders, including adrenal diseases, diabetes, infertility, obesity, osteoporosis, parathyroid and thyroid conditions.

Surgical Specialties

Our surgeons have specialized skills and knowledge in diverse areas. We are equipped to provide patients with the best options for comprehensive, state-of-the-art care.