Background. The goal of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of total thyroidectomy performed for benign thyroid disease. Methods. A total of 106 consecutive patients undergoing total thyroidectomy for benign disease from October 1982 to July 1995 were reviewed. The 33 men and 73 women had an average age of 46 years (range, 16 to 82 years). Indications for total thyroidectomy were a thyroid nodule with the history of head and neck radiation in 36 patients, bilateral thyroid nodules in 35, needle biopsy of a follicular neoplasm or frozen section diagnosis of a possible malignancy in 18, and toxic goiter in 17. Total thyroidectomy was performed as the primary operation in 98 patients, and 8 patients had a completion reoperation for recurrent disease. Results. Pathology findings revealed benign nodular goiter in 49 patients, follicular adenoma in 26, hyperplasia in 19, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis in 12. Postoperative hemorrhage requiring operative hemostasis occurred in two patients (1.9%). Two patients had unilateral recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN) palsy before operation (1.9%). Three patients had unilateral postoperative RLN palsy (2.8%). Two cases resolved in 3 and 4 months. The only permanent RLN injury occurred in a patient reoperated for a compressive goiter. Early postoperative hypocalcemia (8.0 mg/dl or less) was found in nine patients (8.5%). No patient had permanent hypoparathyroidism at long-term follow-up evaluation. Conclusions. Total thyroidectomy for benign thyroid disease can avoid reoperation for nodular goiter and hyperthyroidism and eliminate any subsequent risk of malignant change in radiated thyroid glands. A low complication rate can be achieved with meticulous surgical technique. Total thyroidectomy can be performed safely for bilateral benign thyroid disease.
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