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Journal of Thyroid Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 946276, 9 pages
Review Article

Thyroid Surgery for Elderly Patients: Are They at Increased Operative Risks?

1Breast and Endocrine Unit, Department of Surgery, Kuala Lumpur Hospital, 50586 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
2Division of Endocrine Surgery, Department of Surgery, The University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, Hong Kong

Received 19 May 2012; Accepted 20 June 2012

Academic Editor: Ricardo V. García-Mayor

Copyright © 2012 Sze-How Ng 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.


An increasing elderly population, a rising incidence of differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC), and a rising incidence of benign nodular disease with age are all contributing to a rise in thyroid operations for the elderly. Literature review on the outcome and safety of thyroid surgery in elderly patients has been filled with conflicting results and this subject remains controversial. Although most single-institution studies conducted by high-volume surgeons did not find significant differences of complication rates in elderly when compared with younger cohorts, they often lacked the power necessary to identify subtle differences and suffered from various selection and referral biases. Recent evidence from large population-based studies concluded that thyroid surgery in the elderly was associated with higher complication rates. One of the major contributing factors for the increased complication rate was because most elderly patients suffered from many preexisting comorbidities. Therefore, elderly patients who have abnormal thyroid findings should complete a thorough preoperative workup and better postoperative care after undergoing any thyroid surgery. Furthermore, these high-risk patients would benefit if they could be referred to high-volume, specialized surgical units early. In this systemic review, we aimed to evaluate different issues and controversies in thyroidectomy for elderly patients.