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Completion thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer.

BACKGROUND: Whether thyroid re-operations are associated with an increased complication risk is controversial. The aim of this study was to perform a retrospective analysis of patients undergoing re-operative surgery of the thyroid. We analyzed the safety and the impact of delay on complications before undertaking radicalization thyroidectomy.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: From January 1996 to July 2002, 150 consecutive patients with thyroid cancer were treated in our institution. A total of 62 patients underwent completion thyroidectomy. Twenty-seven had undergone their initial operation in our centre. Medical and pathologic data were obtained retropectively.

RESULTS: Pathological examination of the specimen after completion surgery revealed malignancy in a total of 35% of 62 patients. The time interval between initial surgery and completion thyroidectomy ranged from 5 days to 24 months (mean 3.1 months). Complications after re-operation were transient recurrent nerve injury in 1.6%, transient hypoparathyroidism in 4.8%, permanent hypoparathyroidism in 1.6% and chylous discharge in 1.6% of the patients. There was no significant difference between complication rates in patients operated on within 90 days or those operated on after this period (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that completion thyroidectomy is safe in the hands of experienced endocrine surgeons and the timing of re-operation has no impact on the development of complications.

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