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Thyroid nodules are a common, and mostly non-serious, medical issue. 

Thyroid nodules are estimated to affect 50-70% of the adult population. Do you suffer from thyroid nodules? Are you wanting to know more about treatment options for thyroid nodules? Read on to learn more about thyroid nodules, including when to be concerned about this common medical condition, and what steps can be taken to restore healthy thyroid function.

What are thyroid nodules?

Your thyroid is a small gland located at the base of your neck, right above your breastbone. Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps and bumps that form within the thyroid gland.

There are many possible causes of thyroid nodules, such as overgrowth of thyroid tissue, cysts, and even iodine deficiency. In most cases, people who have thyroid nodules don’t exhibit signs or symptoms. However, sometimes thyroid nodules can get large enough to be seen and felt, even swelling to the point that they put pressure on the oesophagus, causing difficulty breathing or swallowing.

Are thyroid nodules serious?

Most thyroid nodules aren’t serious. However, a very small proportion of thyroid nodules can be cancerous. As thyroid cancer tends to be slow-growing, it is often difficult to detect based on symptoms alone — although if you have developed nodules that are very large, firm, and rapid-growing, consult your doctor immediately.

In other cases, thyroid nodules can produce additional thyroxine, a hormone naturally secreted by your thyroid gland. This can cause a condition known as hyperthyroidism, which refers to the overproduction of thyroid hormones.

When should I see a doctor about thyroid nodules?

If your thyroid nodules are causing you physical discomfort — especially if they are putting pressure on your oesophagus and making it difficult to breathe or swallow — then consult your doctor to investigate thyroid treatment options.

Additionally, if you are suffering from symptoms of hyperthyroidism, this could be an indication that you have thyroid nodules that are producing an excess of thyroxine. Consult your doctor if you have experienced sudden weight loss (usually combined with a normal or even increased appetite), a pounding heart or a noticeably arrhythmic heartbeat, difficultly sleeping, a general feeling of muscle weakness, or a persistent sense of being nervous and/or irritable, seemingly without cause.

What are the treatment options for thyroid nodules?

If you are concerned about your thyroid function, your doctor will perform a thorough series of tests to discover the underlying issue — and what to do about it.

These tests might include a physical exam, blood tests to measure your levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and a thyroid scan to evaluate the seriousness of thyroid nodules.

In some cases — and especially where cancerous nodules are detected — your doctor might recommend the surgical removal of your thyroid nodules, or perhaps some other form of endocrine surgery (i.e., surgery that impacts the hormone-producing glands in the body).

How can we help?

Dr Navin Niles is an accomplished endocrine and head and neck surgeon, specialising in thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal and salivary gland surgery. He performs more than 400 endocrine procedures annually and, as a pioneer of robot-assisted thyroid surgery in Australia, he has set the benchmark in scarless neck thyroid surgery. For more information about thyroid nodule removal and other minimal access surgeries, please read more here.

At the practice of Dr Navin Niles, we empower you to be in control of your care, offering you personalised treatment and surgical excellence. To book an appointment to meet our team of skilled and passionate surgeons, please contact us here.

Our experienced team of specialists operate at Sydney South West Private and Macquarie University Hospital, Norwest Endocrinology and Northern Beaches Endocrinology. We understand that the prospect of surgery can be daunting for some patients, and we are here to guide you carefully through each step of the process, from initial consultation to surgery and recovery. We offer a comprehensive range of endocrine surgeries designed to resolve thyroid issues, including hemithyroidectomy, parathyroidectomy, parotidectomy and thyroidectomy treatments. For more information, please consult our website.