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What is endocrine surgery?

Our endocrine system governs a large part of the body’s natural processes. From digesting food to making us sleepy, this chemically-driven messenger system gets information from our brains to the rest of our bodies, triggering vital responses. 

This complicated system doesn’t always work so smoothly and disorders can develop that affect parts of the endocrine system, and thus, diminish quality of life. Endocrine disorders run the gamut from changing how a body grows and matures to altering its ability to extract necessary nutrients from food sources. Some disorders include hyperthyroidism, adrenal fatigue, cushing’s disease, and gigantism. 

Endocrine disorders can be treated in a number of ways after initial diagnosis. Hormone replacement or suppression therapy is a commonly used practice that helps those suffering from an endocrine disorder regain normalcy and manage the disease. 

Endocrine surgery offers another treatment alternative to the routinely used hormone management route. Historically, a divide existed between medicinal and surgical approaches. As scientists and doctors discover more about the endocrine system, they are developing more efficient ways of treating its disorders, including surgery. 

Treating thyroid, adrenal, and parathyroid disorders through endocrine surgery is a multidisciplinary method that requires the collaboration of endocrinologists and endocrine surgeons. As a new specialty, endocrine surgeons are relatively uncommon and make up a small percentage of medical practitioners. 

What does the UCF team do to assess conditions to determine if surgery is the right step?

Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your team of doctors may choose to test and diagnose your disorder in a variety of ways. Some of the more common tests and assessments include: 

  • Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA): By inserting a thin needle, doctors extract cells from a problematic or concerning area for evaluation by a cytopathologist. Through repeated FNA procedures, often accompanied with an ultrasound, doctors can diagnose the endocrine disorder and create a treatment plan.
  • Sestamibi Scan: This nuclear medicine scan works to locate benign tumors which can still affect the thyroid and other adrenal glands.  
  • Ultrasound:  When evaluating thyroid growths or enlarged lymph nodes, an ultrasound offers an effective approach. Sound waves are utilized to detect masses or fluid build up within soft tissues, which can alert doctors to enlarged adrenal glands. 
  • Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI):  This non-invasive test helps doctors distinguish between different types of tissue masses and can help them determine whether a mass is benign or cancerous.  
  • Positron Emission Test (PET):This type of test can identify thyroid cancers that otherwise would be undetectable through other forms of assessment 

AT UCF Health, we employ a team of expert physicians, endocrinologists, and surgeons to collaborate and create effective, safe health care treatment plans. We consider the specific needs of each patient and would never advise surgery if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. 

Through symptom evaluation, noninvasive assessments, and routine testing, our endocrinology department can develop a complete picture of your situation and work to diagnose, treat, and manage a variety of endocrine disorders. We recognize that everybody is different and people have an array of different health care needs. Thyroid issues in women may present entirely differently than thyroid issues in men, and our expert endocrinology team considers these distinguishing factors when creating a diagnosis. 

What procedures are done? 

Depending on the area of the endocrine system that is affected and the patient’s overall health, possible endocrine surgeries may include: 

  • Adrenalectomy. This procedure removes the entire adrenal gland. 
  • Parathyroidectomy. Removal of one or more of the four parathyroid glands when they are found to overproduce the parathyroid hormone. 
  • Thyroidectomy. When a patient has thyroid cancer or a thyroid-related adrenal disease, ENT doctors may choose to remove all or part of the thyroid. 
  • Thyroid lobectomy.The removal of one or more lobes of the thyroid gland can work to eliminate masses without taking the entire thyroid. 

Why UCF?

UCF Health puts its patients first and employs a team of knowledgeable, top-rated surgeons, physicians, and nurse practitioners. Our medical staff takes time to consider the entire health picture, instead of a brief snapshot. They work to establish a connection with each patient through routine check ups, preventative health measures, and consideration of traditional and alternative treatments to mitigate ailments. 

UCF Health prioritizes keeping current with the nation’s ever-evolving health care landscape. We aim to provide helpful COVID resources, tips on staying healthy during the flu season, and so much more. Our health center provides comprehensive care, from information on adrenal glands to a clean, safe facility for surgical procedures to take place. Visit our patient portal to book an appointment conveniently through our online scheduling platform.