The rate of injury from thyroidectomy is directly related to the amount of experience that the surgeon has. Recently the American Thyroid Association (ATA) cited a problem in that over 80% of thyroid operations were being performed by low- or intermediate-volume surgeons. They noted that low-volume and intermediate-volume surgeons had higher complication rates than high-volume surgeons. Low-volume surgeons perform less than 10 cases per year, sometimes only 1 or 2 cases per year! This is entirely inadequate to develop and maintain the high-level skills thyroid surgery demands!
Alarmingly, low-volume surgeons have complication rates as high as 18.9%. The ATA concluded that patients should be referred to high-volume thyroid surgeons, particularly if the case is extensive or complex. The bottom line from all this data is that the amount of surgeries that are done is critical in developing techniques which are meticulous and are more likely to avoid injury to delicate structures such as the recurrent laryngeal nerve and the parathyroid glands. If thyroid surgery is needed, choose your surgeon wisely!