Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, where doctors removed the largest-recorded thyroid gland in medical history from a 44-year-old female patient. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Doctors at Al Ain’s Tawam Hospital have removed the largest-recorded thyroid gland in medical history from a 44-year-old female patient who had been complaining of breathing difficulties. Referred to as a goitre, the enlarged gland measured about 15 by 30 centimetres.

In a statement, the hospital — part of the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) network — said the woman had also reported trouble swallowing when she reported to the hospital. Upon further investigation, doctors found a massive irregular thyroid gland compressing and encasing the larynx (voice box), hypopharynx and aesophagus (food pipe). It was also compressing the patient’s windpipe and releasing uncontrolled hormones.

Complex procedure

Dr Nouraddine Al Hassan

Doctors carried out an advanced surgical operation, which successfully removed the diseased gland. The procedure was led by Dr Nouraddine Al Hassan, head of Ear Nose Throat (ENT) and neck and thyroid surgery. He used a nerve monitor to preserve the laryngeal nerves and a special modified surgical technique that involved the cutting of the neck muscles, which were sutured. Following the operation, the patient’s speech remained unaffected and she was once again able to breathe and swallow normally. She was also able to sleep on her back for the first time in years.

“Usually, cases like this are referred to hospitals abroad. Tawam Hospital and Seha, however, have extensive experience in dealing with complicated and advanced head-and-neck and thyroid cases and we have the latest technology to ensure the best successful outcomes for patients,” Dr Al Hassan said.

Largest recorded gland

“This patient came to the Emergency Department, suffering from an enlarged thyroid gland that was causing a significant obstruction in her airway and the aerodigestive tract. The surgery was extremely difficult, but proved to be successful as the gland was removed completely and we were able to preserve all the vital structures,” he added.

The patient was discharged just six days after the surgery.

Grateful patient

“I am so relieved that the mass has been removed. I can breathe normally, speak well, swallow the way I used to and my overall quality of life is so much better now. I was shocked to find out how large the gland was and it was scary, knowing that this surgery was complicated and unique. However, I trusted the surgical team wholeheartedly and they took great care of me. My sincerest thanks go out to Tawam Hospital and Dr Al Hassan,” the patient said.

Thyroid removal for 87-year-old

Another lifesaving thyroidectomy was carried out recently at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, which also is part of the Seha network. The patient was 87-year-old Hasmik Dawood, who had also reported difficulties breathing and swallowing. The diseased thyroid gland was removed by a surgical team led by Dr Mohamed Al Ali, otolaryngology surgeon at SKMC, and Dawood was discharged in good health eight days after the procedure.

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Seek medical attention

In a social media alert, Seha has now urged residents to seek medical attention if they face difficulties in breathing or swallowing. Symptoms such as dizziness, swollen neck, persistent cough and itchiness in the throat can also point to an enlarged thyroid gland.