Overview of Postprocedural Hypothyroidism

Overview of Postprocedural Hypothyroidism
Overview of Postprocedural Hypothyroidism

When the thyroid produces insufficient thyroid hormones following a medical treatment, such as surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland, the condition is known as postprocedural hypothyroidism.

Another name for postprocedural hypothyroidism is postoperative hypothyroidism.

Thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, and goitre are all treated with thyroid gland removal procedures.

Thyroid hormone replacement treatment can be used to treat hypothyroidism that results from medical procedures. Let us examine postprocedural hypothyroidism symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment.

What are the symptoms of postprocedural hypothyroidism?

A little gland called the thyroid is located in front of your windpipe. Hormones that facilitate your body's energy consumption are released.

The thyroid gland can malfunction, resulting in either hyperthyroidism (too much hormone production) or hypothyroidism (insufficient hormone production). Thyroid gland nodules or carcinoma are other possible outcomes.

Postprocedural hypothyroidism presents with symptoms that are similar to those of regular hypothyroidism. 

These include:
  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • feeling cold
  • dry skin
  • depression
  • slower heart rate
  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue (low energy)
  • joint soreness and stiffness

What causes postprocedural hypothyroidism?

A doctor may suggest a surgical operation to remove or destroy all or part of the thyroid gland to treat specific thyroid issues.

The following medical procedures are used to address thyroid issues:
  • thyroidectomy, or total removal of the thyroid gland
  • thyroid gland partial excision (lobectomy or hysterectomy)
  • radioactive iodine thyroid ablation
Since the thyroid is the only organ capable of producing thyroid hormones, postprocedural hypothyroidism invariably follows thyroidectomy.

Following a thyroid ablation or hemithyroidectomy, postprocedural hypothyroidism may develop. Hypothyroidism in certain situations could be transient or irreversible. A hemithyroidectomy might cause hypothyroidism months or years later.

About 64% of patients in a 2017 research treated with partial thyroid gland excision developed postprocedural hypothyroidism. In roughly 34% of the research participants, the hypothyroidism was transient and went away on its own.

Your risk of developing postprocedural hypothyroidism increases with the amount of thyroid tissue removed.

Potential complications of postprocedural hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormones impact almost all bodily functions. Postprocedural hypothyroidism can result in major difficulties with the following if left untreated:
  • weight
  • fertility
  • heart health
  • kidney health
  • muscle weakness
  • body temperature
Myxedema crisis, a potentially fatal disease, can result from severe hypothyroidism. Myxedema crisis symptoms include:
  • shock
  • swelling
  • coma
  • seizures
  • high blood pressure
  • low heart rate
  • decreased breathing
  • low body temperature (hypothermia)

How is postprocedural hypothyroidism diagnosed?

Your doctor will regularly check the levels of thyroid hormone in your body following surgery or thyroid ablation.

Blood tests that evaluate thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4) levels are used to detect hypothyroidism. If your TSH is high and your T4 is low, you may be hypothyroid.

When to get medical help

Following a thyroid procedure, your doctor will keep an eye on your thyroid levels. It's critical to keep all of your follow-up appointments to ensure that your thyroid hormone levels are within normal limits.

Consult your doctor about getting tested for hypothyroidism if you've recently had thyroid surgery or radiation ablation and you begin to experience hypothyroidism symptoms like weight gain and fatigue.

Postprocedural hypothyroidism treatment

Following a thyroidectomy, hypothyroidism is a permanent condition. Levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid) is a synthetic hormone that is used as part of treatment. The day following surgery, if you had a thyroidectomy, you will begin taking the medication.

It can take a few weeks before you feel better. Together, you and your physician will determine the optimal dosage of the drug to treat your symptoms.

You will need to take this medication for the remainder of your life following a thyroidectomy. Your doctor will frequently check your TSH levels and change the medication's dosage as needed.

A portion of postprocedural hypothyroidism resulting from thyroid ablation or hemithyroidectomy is transient and may eventually resolve on its own. In the interim, you will need to take levothyroxine.

Is postprocedural hypothyroidism preventable?

Sometimes postprocedural hypothyroidism cannot be avoided.

Nonetheless, following thyroid surgery, getting screened for hypothyroidism and taking all prescription meds as directed might help avoid symptoms and consequences.

Living with postprocedural hypothyroidism

The symptoms of postprocedural hypothyroidism should go away or at least become easier to manage if medication levels are restored.

Your quality of life won't be impacted by postprocedural hypothyroidism, but you will need to take thyroid medicine for the rest of your life.


Following surgical operations where a portion of the thyroid is removed, postprocedural hypothyroidism develops. Medication is one way to manage it. Ask your doctor about the possibility of postprocedural hypothyroidism if you are undergoing thyroid surgery.

It's crucial to follow up with your doctor for all suggested blood testing after your treatment to make sure your thyroid levels are within normal limits.

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