Prospective Study of Postoperative Complications After Total Thyroidectomy for Multinodular Goiters by Surgeons With Experience in Endocrine Surgery

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(1) To show that total thyroidectomy (TT) can be performed in multinodular goiter (MG) by surgeons with experience in endocrine surgery with a definitive complication rate of 1% or less; and (2) to analyze the risk factors for complications in these patients.

Summary Background Data:

There is current controversy over the role of TT in the treatment of MG; although there are potential benefits, high rates of complications are not acceptable in surgery for a benign pathology.

Patients and Method:

A prospective study was conducted on 301 MGs meeting the following criteria: (1) bilateral MG; (2) no prior cervical surgery; (3) operation by surgeons with experience in endocrine surgery; (4) no associated parathyroid pathology; (5) no initial thoracic approach; and (6) minimum follow-up of 1 year. Age, sex, time of evolution, symptoms, cervical goiter grade, intrathoracic component, thyroid weight, and presence of associated carcinoma were analyzed as risk factors for complications. The χ2 test and a logistic regression analysis were applied.


Complications were presented by 62 patients (21%), corresponding to 29 hypoparathyroidisms, 26 recurrent laryngeal nerve injuries, 4 lesions of the superior laryngeal nerve, 3 cervical hematomas, and 1 infection of the cervicotomy. The variables associated with the presence of these complications were hyperthyroidism (P = 0.0033), compressive symptoms (P = 0.0455), intrathoracic component (P = 0.0366), goiter grade (P = 0.0195), and weight of excised specimen (P = 0.0302); hyperthyroidism (relative risk [RR] 2.5) and intrathoracic component (RR 1.5) persisted as independent risk factors. Definitive complications appeared in 3 patients (1%), corresponding to 2 hypoparathyroidisms and 1 recurrent laryngeal nerve injury. Two cases corresponded to a toxic goiter, and the third to an intrathoracic goiter with compressive symptoms.


In endocrine surgery units, TT can be performed for MG with a definitive complication rate of around 1%; the main independent risk factors for the development of complications are hyperthyroidism and goiter size.

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