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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, in front of the trachea. The two nerves that control the vocal cords (recurrent nerves) are located right behind the thyroid. It can not be seen or palpated unless it increases in size, causing swelling of the neck, which is called a goiter. The thyroid gland produces the thyroid hormones, which are called T4 and T3 and control growth and metabolism. If the thyroid is not working properly, the body consumes energy more slowly or more quickly than it should.
The main indications for surgery include hyperthyroidism (the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone), an increase in thyroid size (nodules and goiter) and cancer.
Other thyroid diseases can be monitored and treated with drugs, for example radioactive iodine and antithyroid drugs.
Learn more: The Endocrinology Unit at the HUG