Impact of surgical technique on operative morbidity and its socioeconomic benefit in thyroid surgery

Kurmann, Anita ; Martens, Forian ; Inglin, Roman ; Schmid, Stefan ; Candinas, Daniel ; Seiler, Christian

In: Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery, 2012, vol. 397, no. 7, p. 1127-1131

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    Purpose: The aim of this retrospective cohort study was to evaluate the rate of complications in relation to the extent of surgery and some of its consequences. Methods: Between 1972 and 2010, a total of 5,277 consecutive thyroid gland surgeries with 7,383 nerves at risk were performed at our teaching institution. Data of all patients undergoing thyroidectomy were collected prospectively. A total of 2,867 subtotal resections (first study period from 1972 to 1990) were compared with 2,410 extended thyroid resections involving at least a hemithyroidectomy (second period from 1991 to 2010). Results: The incidence of permanent recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy in primary operations was significantly higher in the first period compared to the second period (3.6 vs. 0.9%; p < 0.001). Permanent hypoparathyroidism decreased from 3.2% in the first period to 0.8% in the second period (p < 0.001). The incidence of recurrent goiter surgery decreased from 11.1% in the first period to 8.1% in the second period (p < 0.001). No significant difference was found in permanent recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy in recurrent disease between the two periods. The socioeconomic benefits of an extended thyroid resection in our patient population are 360 preventable operations, 90 preventable permanent recurrent laryngeal nerve palsies, and 58 preventable cancers. Furthermore, 37 preventable radioiodine ablations and 15 preventable deaths were associated with more radical thyroid resection. Conclusion: Improvements in surgical technique and change in surgical strategy significantly decreased the prevalence of recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy, hypoparathyroidism, and recurrent disease as well as reduced public health costs associated with recurrent goiter