What is the risk of infection during thyroidectomy and how is it managed?

Updated: May 08, 2018
  • Author: Neerav Goyal, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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The rates of infection after thyroidectomy have significantly decreased with improvements in technology and aseptic technique and are currently estimated between 1-2%. [46]

The usual presentation is a superficial cellulitis with warmth, erythema, and tenderness surrounding the surgical incision. If fluctuance is present, a superficial abscess may also be present. Other signs of infection, such as fever and leukocytosis, without an overlying cellulitis, may point to a deep space neck infection or abscess.

CT imaging can be helpful in evaluating the deep spaces of the neck. Abscess needs to be drained, and the aspirate should be sent for cultures. Patients with a superficial cellulitis need to be on antibiotics that cover gram-positive organisms, while those with abscesses should be placed on broad-spectrum antibiotics until cultures yield specific bacteria.

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