What kind of anesthesia will I get for thyroid surgery?

When you have thyroid surgery, you are given the option of either general anesthesia or local anesthesia. With local anesthesia, your neck area is numbed, mild sedatives may be given to reduce anxiety, and it is as if you are taking a nap during the operation. Since you will not be completely asleep, you can be in close communication with your surgeon throughout the operation. With general anesthesia you are completely asleep during the operation, and the same local anesthetic is given to your neck area to help eliminate any postoperative discomfort.

Most thyroid operations are performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be totally asleep during the procedure and a plastic tube will be placed in your windpipe (trachea) to help you breathe.

However, some thyroid operations are performed under “monitored anesthesia care” with a “cervical block”. This means the anesthesiologist will administer sedation medication through an IV (catheter in a vein) to make you relaxed, and the surgeon will inject numbing local anesthetic medication into the skin around your neck. Some surgeons routinely perform thyroid surgery in this way, while other thyroid surgeons prefer to use general anesthesia unless it is too risky (for example, if the patient has severe heart or lung disease). Ask your thyroid surgeon what kind of anesthesia will be used for your operation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.