A new study presented at the 2014 American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) annual meeting in Orlando found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among patients who underwent a thyroidectomy, potentially putting them at an increased risk for developing hypocalcemia.
Thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure involving the removal of the thyroid gland. It is most commonly used to treat cancer, goiter, and hyperthyroidism. As with any surgery, thyroidectomy has several risks and complications, one of the most common being hypocalcemia.
Hypocalcemia is characterized by dangerously low calcium levels in the blood. Since vitamin D increases calcium absorption, researchers were curious to measure the vitamin D status among patients prior to their thyroidectomy operation.
Researchers from Henry Ford Hospital recruited 110 patients. Out of these patients, 40% had low vitamin D levels before surgery.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Chaudhary, stated, “The issue of vitamin D deficiency in patients who are undergoing thyroid surgery can potentially impact both the care of parathyroid glands during surgery and calcium management after surgery.”
By correcting low vitamin D levels before thyroidectomies, the researchers state that patients would have a lower chance of developing hypocalcemia.
“Providing vitamin D supplementation to these patients prior to surgery is an easy and inexpensive step to make their surgery safer,” noted Dr. Singer, a senior author of the study.