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Journal of Thyroid Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 329620, 5 pages
Research Article

A UK-Wide Survey of Life-Threatening Thyroidectomy Complications

Department of Surgery, Newham University Hospital NHS Trust, Glen Road Plaistow, London E13 8SL, UK

Received 13 June 2010; Revised 6 December 2010; Accepted 6 January 2011

Academic Editor: Fausto Bogazzi

Copyright © 2011 Z. K. Hassan-Smith et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background and Aims. Complications following thyroidectomy can prolong hospital stay and cause significant morbidity particularly for patients treated for benign thyroid conditions. Our aim was to administer a UK-wide survey of thyroid surgery units on frequency and timing of the onset of life-threatening airway complications & correlate to factors that might be associated with them. Methods. A questionnaire including the number of and timing of the onset of life-threatening airway complications, number of thyroidectomy procedures performed per year, surgeon years of experience, the use of difficult airway management protocol, post-operative patient destination, and patient deaths, was sent to 80 UK surgical units. Results. 23/41 hospitals responded reported no postthyroidectomy airway complications. Life-threatening airways complications all occurred within the first 12 hours postoperatively, with 9 cases occurring in the recovery room and in less than 2 hours, 3 cases occurring 2–6 hours, and 3 cases occurring 6 to 12 hours after surgery. Conclusion. The results may support recent publications that advocate thyroidectomy as a less-than-24-hour surgery procedure in selected patients. Further a larger study and standardised protocol are required to establish patients' selection criteria to determine who are likely to develop serious postoperative complication and may require HDU bed.