Thyroidectomy Outcomes in Obese Patients

J Surg Res. 2024 Mar:295:717-722. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2023.11.071. Epub 2023 Dec 23.


Introduction: Obese patients often have higher complication rates after elective general surgeries; however, few studies have examined the outcomes after thyroidectomy. This study examines whether increased body mass index (BMI) is associated with poor postoperative outcomes after thyroid surgery.

Methods: A retrospective review of patients who underwent thyroidectomy from 2015 to 2018 was performed. Demographics, comorbidities, pathology, and extent of resection (total versus hemithyroidectomy) were examined. Patients were classified into BMI groups according to the WHO definitions, and the incidence of surgical outcomes was determined in each group. Surgical outcomes of interest included readmission rates (RRs), length of stay, average operating room time, return to the operating room, hypocalcemia, postop infections, hematomas, and recurrent laryngeal nerve injury. Between-subjects statistics including independent samples t-test, ANOVA, and chi-square analyses were performed.

Results: There were n = 465 patients included with a mean BMI 32.35 (standard deviation = 8.55) and median BMI 30.78 (Q1 = 26.26, Q3 = 36.73). There were no differences between BMI groups in age, gender, smoking, heart disease. There was a positive association between increased BMI and postoperative infection (P < 0.001), pneumonia (P = 0.018), and surgical site infection (P = 0.04), which were highest for BMI > 40. Increased BMI was associated with a higher 30-d RR (P = 0.008), particularly for BMI >40 versus BMI <40 (6.2% versus 1.05%; P = 0.003). There were no significant differences between surgical outcomes for patients with increased BMI who underwent total thyroidectomy or hemithyroidectomy.

Conclusions: Excellent postoperative outcomes were observed in all BMI categories. Higher postoperative infection and 30-d RRs were observed in the morbidly obese. Contrary to previous studies, operating room times were similar regardless of BMI.

Keywords: Hemithyroidectomy; Obesity; Operative times; Postoperative complications; Postoperative outcomes; Total thyroidectomy.

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid* / complications
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Gland
  • Thyroidectomy* / adverse effects