Thyroid Removal Outcomes for Experienced vs. Non-Experienced Surgeons

Risk of complications 87 percent higher when case load is one thyroidectomy case a year
Risk of complications 87 percent higher when case load is one thyroidectomy case a year

HealthDay News — Patients who have their thyroidectomy performed by a surgeon who does more than 25 such procedures a year tend to have fewer complications, according to a study published online March 8 in the Annals of Surgery.

Julie Sosa, MD, chief of endocrine surgery at Duke University in Durham, NC, and colleagues looked at data from nearly 16,954 patients in the United States who underwent thyroidectomy between 1998 and 2009.

While the researchers only found an association, the risk of complications was 87% higher when a surgeon did only one thyroidectomy case a year. In general, doing fewer procedures was tied to more complications in the study: an 68% increased risk of complications was linked with doing two to five thyroidectomies a year; a 22% increased risk with 11 to 15 cases a year; and a 10% increased risk with 16 to 20 operations a year. There was no increased risk of complications among surgeons who did more than 25 thyroidectomies a year.

"Surgeons have an ethical responsibility to report their case numbers," Sosa said in a university news release. "While this is not a guarantee of a positive outcome, choosing a more experienced surgeon certainly can improve the odds that the patient will do well."

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