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Comprehensive Thyroid Care

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that produces thyroid hormone, which helps maintain body balance. Thyroid disorders can include thyroid cancer, hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone), hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone), goiter, and thyroid nodules. If you are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, the Inova thyroid management program offers seamless surgical and medical care for your condition.

At Inova, we also provide additional specialty services for patients with advanced or recurrent thyroid cancer. Patients can receive radioactive iodine therapy after surgery at Inova. Our endocrinologists also monitor patients long-term following initial thyroid cancer treatment and manage thyroid hormone replacement. Our radiology team offers ethanol ablation as a treatment option for patients with recurrent thyroid cancer.

For additional information on thyroid diseases, please visit the American Thyroid Association webpage for patients: https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-information/.

Thyroid Surgery

Advanced and invasive thyroid disease includes those cancers that have invaded the larynx, trachea, esophagus, and great vessels, which bring blood to and from the heart and can be a challenge to remove. Surgery can be a good choice for thyroid cancer, depending on each patient's case. Success depends in part on the size of your tumor and where it’s located.

At the Inova Schar Cancer Institute, our thyroid surgeons have a great deal of expertise with this surgery. Our Multi-disciplinary approach allows for care coordination with multiple experts to come up with a treatment plan just for you. For example, if the disease has spread to the lymph nodes in the upper chest, we may collaborate with our highly skilled thoracic surgeons to ensure that we perform the most complete tumor removal possible.

Parathyroid Surgery

The parathyroid glands are four small glands located behind the thyroid, and they secrete parathyroid hormone (PTH) to control calcium balance in the body. When one or more parathyroid glands enlarge and produce too much PTH, the blood calcium level increases. This can lead to bone loss and kidney stones. Often, the best way to treat parathyroid disease is surgery.

At Inova, our surgeons perform a high volume of parathyroid surgeries every year, which leads to better outcomes and patient satisfaction. We offer minimally invasive parathyroidectomy with rapid intraoperative PTH monitoring, which allows for smaller scars and faster recovery.

Adrenal Surgery

The adrenal glands are paired organs located in the back, next to the kidneys. They secrete hormones that control many body functions including energy level, blood sugar and blood pressure. When an adrenal gland develops nodules or becomes overactive, precise lab tests and imaging studies are important. Removal of the adrenal gland may be required.

At Inova, we offer minimally invasive surgery to remove the adrenal gland, either through the front of the body (laparoscopic transabdominal adrenalectomy) or through the back (retroperitoneoscopic adrenalectomy). Minimally invasive surgery offers great cosmetic results, less pain and shorter recovery after surgery. Also, at Inova, we have anesthesiologists and endocrinologists who are experienced in caring for patients with adrenal tumors around the time of surgery.

We also offer genetic counseling, which is often recommended for patients with rare adrenal tumors called pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma.

Radioactive (RAI) Iodine Therapy

RAI works because the thyroid gland needs iodine and absorbs it from the bloodstream. When you swallow the RAI, it goes through your bloodstream to your thyroid tissue. The radiation from the RAI destroys thyroid cells, both cancerous cells and normal thyroid cells, with minimal effects on the rest of your body. RAI is typically given in pill form. It enters your bloodstream and destroys the cancer cells.

At Inova, if you are eligible for RAI therapy, our specialists will walk you through starting RAI some weeks after surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells that the surgeon could not remove. This treatment also aims to eliminate any thyroid cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body. This makes it easier to do ongoing monitoring for any possible recurrence.

Thyroid Nodule Clinic

If your provider determines you need a nodule evaluated, you will be scheduled for a diagnostic ultrasound called a fine needle aspiration (FNA). This outpatient procedure uses a very fine needle that collects a sample to help rule out cancer. Pathology and radiology experts will walk you thorough the biopsy collection process at the Inova Schar Cancer Institute. The appointment lasts one hour. Actual procedure time is no longer than 15 minutes, this includes acquisition of tissue specimen and preliminary review by the pathologist on site. No local anesthesia is used.

Your FNA diagnostic results will be returned to you within one hour. You will then meet with a provider from our Thyroid Nodule Clinic on the same day to answer any additional questions you have about your results. Your provider will contact you regarding your results.

RFA Treatment

RFA is a minimally invasive treatment option performed by interventional radiology as an alternative to surgery in some patients with thyroid nodules. During this procedure a small needle electrode is inserted into the thyroid nodule using ultrasound guidance. Heat is then generated at the needle tip to destroy the target tissue.

The procedure typically lasts approximately one hour, depending on the size of the nodule being treated. Patients leave the procedure suite the same day with only a small bandage. After the procedure some patients experience minor discomfort and bruising which may be treated with over-the-counter pain medications. There is no scar from the procedure.

If you are interested in RFA, please schedule an appointment to be evaluated by our multidisciplinary team of providers, including a radiologist, an endocrinologist, and an endocrine surgeon to evaluate whether RFA is the best management option for you. You can schedule your appointment by calling 571-472-4724.