Postoperative outcomes in graves' disease patients: Results from the nationwide inpatient sample database

Gustavo A. Rubio, Tulay Sengul, Tanaz M. Vaghaiwalla, Punam P. Parikh, Josefina C. Farra, John Lew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Current surgical indications for Graves' disease include intractability to medical and/or radioablative therapy, compressive symptoms, and worsening ophthalmopathy. Total thyroidectomy for Graves' disease may be technically challenging and lead to untoward perioperative outcomes. This study examines outcomes in patients with Graves' disease who underwent total thyroidectomy and assesses its safety for this patient population. Methods: A retrospective cross-sectional analysis was performed using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample database from 2006 to 2011. Total thyroidectomy performed in patients with Graves' disease, benign multinodular goiter (MNG), and thyroid cancer was identified. Demographic factors, comorbidities, and postoperative complications were evaluated. Chi-square, one-way analysis of variance, and risk-adjusted multivariable logistic regression were performed. Results: Of 215,068 patients who underwent total thyroidectomy during the study period, 11,205 (5.2%) had Graves' disease, 110,124 (51.2%) MNG, and 93,739 (43.6%) thyroid malignancy. Patients with Graves' disease were younger than MNG and thyroid cancer patients (Mage = 42.8 years vs. 55.5 and 51.0 years; p < 0.01). The Graves' disease group included a higher proportion of women (p < 0.01) and nonwhites (p < 0.01). Postoperatively, Graves' patients had significantly higher rates of hypocalcemia (12.4% vs. 7.3% and 10.3%; p < 0.01), hematomas requiring reoperation (0.7% vs. 0.4% and 0.4%; p < 0.01), and longer mean hospital stay (2.7 days vs. 2.4 and 2.2 days; p < 0.01) compared to MNG and thyroid cancer patients, respectively. On risk-adjusted multivariate logistic regression, Graves' disease was independently associated with a higher risk of vocal-cord paralysis (odds ratio [OR] = 1.36 [confidence interval (CI) 1.08-1.69]), tracheostomy (OR = 1.35 [CI 1.1-1.67]), postoperative hypocalcemia (OR = 1.65 [CI 1.54-1.77]), and hematoma requiring reoperation (OR = 2.79 [CI 2.16-3.62]) compared to MNG patients. High-volume centers for total thyroidectomy were independently associated with lower risk of postoperative complications, including in patients with Graves' disease. Conclusions: Despite low overall morbidity following total thyroidectomy, Graves' disease patients are at increased risk of postoperative complications, including bleeding, vocal-cord paralysis, tracheostomy, and hypocalcemia. These risks appear to be lower when performed at high-volume centers, and thus referral to these centers should be considered. Total thyroidectomy may therefore be a safe treatment option for appropriately selected patients with Graves' disease when performed by experienced surgeons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-831
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • complications
  • hematoma
  • hypocalcemia
  • outcomes
  • safety
  • thyroidectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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