Total thyroidectomy for Graves' disease-what do our patients think? A qualitative cohort study to evaluate the surgical management of Graves' disease

Surgeon. 2020 Aug;18(4):193-196. doi: 10.1016/j.surge.2019.09.005. Epub 2019 Oct 18.


Introduction: Total thyroidectomy for Grave's disease has been covered extensively in literature. There are established risks and side effects of the procedure, but in experienced hands, this is minimised. Studies show the physical complication rate of total thyroidectomy, but not a holistic view. The authors pose the question, "what do our patients really think"? Has there been a significant improvement in quality of life by doing this surgery?

Methods: A cohort of patients who underwent total thyroidectomy for Graves' disease between the dates 2015-2018. A total of 95 patients were identified. The Glasgow Benefit Inventory (GBI) was used to ascertain patient's opinions on their surgery.

Results: There were 54 responders, 46 female and 8 male. Average age was 41, with a range 20-81. Average GBI scores were 13.35 (SD 30.16). A general subset had an average score of 19.21 (SD = 32.59), a social subset average was 9.57 (SD = 25.61), and a physical subset was average -6.79 (SD = 37.40). Patients' feedback included positive and negative statements on their feelings surrounding pre-operative communication and post-operative side effects.

Conclusion: Overall, the GBI scores are positive, thereby showing an improvement in quality of life since having total thyroidectomy for Graves. Pre-operative communication was of paramount importance. It should be made clear to patients that they will require medication after surgery. The majority of patients stated they would prefer to know about "minor" post -operative side effects like weight gain or mood change post op. This highlights the importance of the consenting process- Montgomery Ruling-that clinicians explain the risks involved with surgery according to what the patient would deem a risk. In addition, they must be informed of the non-surgical options available, therefore, surgeons should be able to discuss risks and benefits of radio-iodine and anti-thyroid drugs too.

Keywords: ENT surgery; Endocrine surgery; GBI; Glasgow benefit inventory; Graves' disease; Patient recorded outcome measure; Patient satisfaction score; Thyroid; Total thyroidectomy.