Long-term voice quality outcomes after total thyroidectomy: a prospective multicenter study

Surgery. 2018 Apr;163(4):796-800. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2017.09.023. Epub 2017 Nov 20.


Background: Postthyroidectomy voice disorders can occur without any recurrent laryngeal nerve injury, and probably are the most frequent complication after thyroidectomy. We report the long-term voice quality outcomes after total thyroidectomy without vocal cord palsy using a simple self-assessment tool: the voice handicap index self-questionnaire.

Methods: This observational prospective multicenter study included 203 patients from the "ThyrQoL" study (ClinicalTrial NCT02167529), who underwent total thyroidectomy between October 2014 and August 2015 in 3 French Hospitals (Nantes, La Roche-sur-Yon, and Limoges). Exclusion criteria included confirmed malignant disease, age <18 years, and preoperative voice troubles with confirmed vocal cord palsy. Direct flexible laryngoscopy was performed after surgery. Nineteen patients with a postoperative vocal cord palsy were excluded from analysis.

Results: One hundred and seventy-six patients with no vocal cord palsy were analyzed. Voice handicap index scores were significantly altered on postoperative month 2 compared with preoperative values (7.02 ± 11.56 vs 14.41 ± 19.44; P<.0001). Voice handicap index scores were not significantly different on postoperative month 6 compared with preoperative values (7.02 ± 11.56 vs 7.61 ± 14.02; P=.381). Thirty-six patients (20.5%) described significant voice impairment 2 months after total thyroidectomy. Nine patients (5.7%) still experienced significant discomfort at 6 months.

Conclusion: Twenty percent of patients had initial voice impairment at 2 months postthyroidectomy, with a progressive recovery to preoperative levels at 6 months with <6% with persistent voice complaints.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Postoperative Complications* / diagnosis
  • Postoperative Complications* / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thyroidectomy*
  • Voice Disorders / diagnosis
  • Voice Disorders / epidemiology
  • Voice Disorders / etiology*
  • Voice Quality*
  • Young Adult