Early in the 20th century, thyroid surgery was performed using local anesthetic techniques. When general anesthesia became safer, surgeons started performing thyroidectomy exclusively under general anesthesia. However, recent descriptions of thyroidectomy under local anesthesia claim similar results to thyroidectomy under general anesthesia. Surgery conducted under local anesthesia can result in early discharge, ie, a hospital stay of less than 8 hours.
Thyroidectomy can be performed under local anesthesia with monitored anesthesia care (MAC) with results similar to general anesthesia in an outpatient or inpatient surgery setting.
A prospective randomized study comparing local anesthesia with MAC vs general anesthesia in adult patients undergoing thyroidectomy in a potential outpatient setting, defined as same-day discharge. Patients were excluded if they were not able to receive local or general anesthesia. In addition, we performed an outcome evaluation of the use of local anesthesia with MAC for thyroidectomy and the use of outpatient surgery for thyroidectomy. We compared 58 consecutive thyroidectomies performed prior to the study with 58 consecutive thyroidectomies performed after the study.
A 486-bed university-affiliated hospital.
Fifty-eight patients undergoing thyroidectomy received random assignment: 29 to local anesthesia with MAC and 29 to general anesthesia under study protocol. Fifty-one surgical procedures (88%) were completed as outpatient surgery. No significant differences were found between the 2 study groups in demographics, postoperative adverse symptoms, complications, hospital admission, or patient satisfaction. Patients in the general anesthesia group spent, on average, more time postoperatively than patients in the group that received local anesthesia with MAC in the outpatient surgery center until same-day discharge (P = .02). When compared before the study, we found a significant increase after the randomized study in the use of local anesthesia with MAC (P<.001) and outpatient thyroidectomies (P<.001).
Thyroidectomy can be performed in the studied patient population under either general anesthesia or local anesthesia with MAC, expecting similar operative results, clinical results, and patient satisfaction. In addition, local anesthesia with MAC can reduce the postoperative time spent in an outpatient surgery setting with potential health care cost savings.