Thursday, January 05, 2006

Surgeons Don't Need to be Cowboys

this is an audio post - click to play

Surgeons Need to Refer Thyroid Cancer Cases to Thyroidologists Before the Surgery

I do not operate on my thyroid cancer cases, but refer them to expert thyroid surgeons.
I do not expect surgeons to operate on cancer cases without a complete thyroid evaluation before the surgery date.

70Y/O male with Medullary Thyroid cancer found while having a PET/CT for lukemia F/U.
A positive node was found in the upper mediastinum for Medullary Ca. They biopsied the
thyroid and confirmed MCT. He had a date for surgery for the next day for a total Thyroidectomy. He was not referred to a thyroidologist. He was nervous, and came to me on his own for my opinion.

I found bilateral abnormal lymph nodes on both sides of his neck by High Frequency ultrasound. He had high blood pressure. I ordered tests to r/o a blood pressure adrenal tumor, and and sent a DNA study to a r/o family type of Medullary cancer.

I told him to cancel the surgery. that he needed to see a thyroid cancer surgeon, because he needed a very complicated surgery, that included total thyroidectomy, bilateral lymph node resection, and also opening the chest to remove the nodes found there on PET/CT. After my evaluation, he followed my advice, and went to MD Anderson in Texas for the surgery. The massive surgery went well and he returned to L.A. to be followed in my clinic.
The surgeon who wanted to rush him to surgery, would have faced a possible crisis
because he did not check the adrenals for a BP tumor. He did not know that there were bilateral nodes I found on HF US testing. The surgery would have been incomplete.

What did we learn?

Do not get rushed into surgery without a complete evaluation by a thyroidologist.
Also beware of surgeon who seem to know it all.
I do not operate, and they should not act as thyroidologists.
This surgeon who rushed the case to the OR, is considered a local thyroid surgeon, but because of his cowboy attitude toward his patients, he never gets a referral from me.