Endoscopic thyroidectomy is safe in patients with a high body mass index

William S. Duke, Jennifer R. White, Jennifer L. Waller, David J. Terris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Obesity is associated with a number of medical comorbidities and is considered a risk factor for surgical complications. However, the impact of obesity on the safety of minimally invasive video-assisted thyroidectomy (MIVAT) has not been well defined. We sought to determine the relationship between obesity and the risk of complications in patients undergoing MIVAT. Method: A prospectively maintained database of all thyroid surgeries performed from January 2006 through June 2012 was searched and all cases of MIVAT were identified. Patients were stratified into three body mass index (BMI) groups according to the National Institutes of Health classification for obesity: normal (BMI ≤24.9 kg/m2), overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m 2) and obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2). The total number of complications was compared among the three groups, and MIVAT patients were also compared to a cohort of patients undergoing conventional thyroid surgery. Results: There were 233 MIVATs performed on 223 patients. The mean overall BMI for the study population was 25.4 kg/m2. There were 123 procedures (52.8%) in the normal group, 76 procedures (32.6%) in the overweight group, and 34 procedures (14.6%) in the obese group. Complications included 1 case of cellulitis (0.4%), 6 cases of temporary hypocalcemia (2.6%), and 6 cases of transient vocal fold paresis (2.6%). No patients suffered permanent hypocalcemia or a permanent recurrent laryngeal nerve injury. There were 9 complications in the normal group (7.3%), 4 complications in the overweight group (5.3%), and no complications in the obese group. Due to the low number of complications in this series, the overweight and obese groups were combined into a high BMI group for further analysis. Statistical analysis using simple logistic regression models revealed that there was no significant difference in the number of complications in patients with a high BMI compared with patients with a normal BMI (odds ratio [OR] 0.48 [confidence interval (CI) 0.14-1.63], p=0.2). The MIVAT group had fewer overall complications than the conventional thyroidectomy group. Conclusions: Overweight and obese patients undergoing MIVAT in this series were not at an increased risk for surgical complications. The MIVAT procedure may be considered safe in patients with a high BMI, who may derive particular benefit from a minimally invasive approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1146-1150
Number of pages5
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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