What are the signs and symptoms of hematoma following thyroid surgery and how is it managed?

Updated: Feb 27, 2020
  • Author: Pramod K Sharma, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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The incidence of bleeding after thyroid surgery is low (0.3-1%), but an unrecognized or rapidly expanding hematoma can cause airway compromise and asphyxiation. Patients present with neck swelling, neck pain, and/or signs and symptoms of airway obstruction (eg, dyspnea, stridor, hypoxia). Evaluation is as follows:

  • Physical examination; remove all bandaging and examine the neck for swelling

  • Imaging studies may be useful in cases of mild neck swelling without airway compromise

  • Fiberoptic laryngoscopy may be warranted in patients with airway issues without apparent wound hematoma, to assess vocal fold function

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