Thyroid Cancer / Nodules & Hyperthyroidism Expert Forum
Problems after thyroid surgery
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Questions in the Thyroid forum are answered by Mark Lupo, MD. Topics covered include Goiter, Graves Disease, Hyperthyroid, Parathyroid/Calcium Problems, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroid Nodules/Cysts, Thyroiditis, Thyroid & Pregnancy, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Thyroid Tests, and Thyroid Surgery.

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Problems after thyroid surgery

Hello,
I had a total thyroidectomy on 9/18 for a 4.7 cm cold nodule. (Had 4 neg. FNAs but was becoming symptomatic)  The preliminary path. report during surgery was +Papillary CA so I had a total with removal of lymph nodes.  Immediately after waking up in Recovery, I told the nurse I was short of breath and felt like I was not getting enough air.  This continued and I had a stat CXR and EKG which were normal as well as normal pulse ox.  This was severe for the first 24 hours post-op.  I never slept, I had to sit straight up just to be able to breathe.  When I tried to take a deep breath there was a noise that seemed to come from my vocal cord area.  I was discharged the second day, still feeling short of breath , but not as severe.  I am 9 days post-op now.  My voice is extremely breathy.  I can't talk much because it makes me too short of breath and dizzy.  It seems like I have to expel a lot of air just to get my voice out. I am also choking on liquids. I do not feel in any way that this is anxiety. I have 2 questions:  Should I be concerned that this could be vocal cord/nerve damage or would this be considered normal for this surgery?  Oncology surgeon said frozen slide showed +Pap. CA but he is waiting for final biopsy report.- Is +frozen slide interp. by Pathologist ever false positive?  My surgeon assured me they would not remove my whole thyroid unless it was conclusive.  I would appreciate your opinion.

Thank you.
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Frozen section should be very accurate for papillary cancer, but permanent section is the most accurate - so need to wait for the final decision -- if in doubt, have it sent for second opinion.

The voice and shortness of breath issue is concerning for a vocal cord problem -- would talk to your surgeon and consider having an ENT look at the vocal cords if there is any doubt as to the cause.
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Thyroid & Endocrine Center of Florida
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