By Dr. Saurabh Bansal, General Surgery
Our endocrine glands work overtime to keep us healthy by secreting hormones which reach each and every cell in our body through the blood. These hormones evoke life changing responses in other cells to keep us alive and healthy. Endocrine surgery is a term for an operation in any one or more endocrine glands in your body.
Types of endocrine glands
- Thyroid gland: This is the most important endocrine gland in your body and it secretes thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism.
- Parathyroid glands: There are 4 parathyroid glands and these are located behind the thyroid gland in the neck region. These glands secrete the parathyroid hormone which controls calcium levels in the body.
- Adrenal glands: These are located over the kidney. There are 2 adrenal glands and these secrete adrenaline, aldosterone and cortisol- the body’s fight or flight hormone. These also maintain salt levels in the blood and the blood pressure.
- Neuroendocrine glands of the pancreas: These are located in the pancreas behind the stomach. They work to control glucose levels and glucose metabolism.
- Pituitary gland is the master gland of the body: It secretes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and other important hormones that control ovaries, thyroid and other endocrine glands in your body.
Depending on the endocrine gland being operated upon, there are different types of endocrine surgeries. The most important ones are-
- Hypophysectomy: This is the surgical removal of the pituitary gland. It is a very sophisticated and critical surgery that surgeons resort to, if there is a tumor in the pituitary gland – especially craniopharyngioma tumors. It can cause atrophy of thyroid, adrenal glands and the ovaries as the pituitary secretes hormones to control their function. In addition, it can result in sterility and sometimes results in a non-functional reproductive tract in both men and women.
- Thyroidectomy: It is an operation that involves removal of the entire or parts of the thyroid gland in the neck. Trained ENT or endocrine surgeons perform this operation, which is indicated for thyroid cancer or hyperthyroidism, goiter or Graves disease. Sometimes it is done for treating an enlarged thyroid gland or obstructions in the neck region, causing problems in swallowing or breathing. In cases of total thyroidectomy patients will need life long thyroid hormone supplementation. Sometime patient can have change in voice which is usually temporary.
- Since the thyroid produces several hormones like thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), and calcitonin, you will have to take oral synthetic hormones all your life post surgery. The thyroid is usually removed through an incision in the neck. These days there is the option of minimally invasive surgeries too.
- Adrenalectomy: It is the removal of one or both adrenal glands to treat tumors of the adrenal glands. It is done using an open incision or laprascopic technique.
- Pinealectomy: It is a surgical procedure in which the pineal gland is removed.