(HealthDay News) — Patients who have their thyroidectomy performed by a surgeon who does more than 25 such procedures a year tend to have fewer complications, according to a study published in the Annals of Surgery.

Julie Sosa, MD, chief of endocrine surgery at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues looked at data from nearly 16 954 patients in the United States who underwent thyroidectomy between 1998 and 2009. Of these patients, 47% had thyroid cancer and 53% had benign disease.

While the researchers only found an association, the risk for complications was 87% higher when a surgeon did only 1 thyroidectomy case a year. In general, doing fewer procedures was tied to more complications in the study: a 68% increased risk for complications was linked with doing 2 to 5 thyroidectomies a year; a 22% increased risk with 11 to 15 cases a year; and a 10% increased risk with 16 to 20 operations a year. 

There was no increased risk for complications among surgeons who did more than 25 thyroidectomies a year.

“Surgeons have an ethical responsibility to report their case numbers,” Dr Sosa said in a university news release. “While this is not a guarantee of a positive outcome, choosing a more experienced surgeon certainly can improve the odds that the patient will do well.”


  1. Adam MA, Thomas S, Youngwirth L, et al. Is There a Minimum Number of Thyroidectomies a Surgeon Should Perform to Optimize Patient Outcomes? Ann Surg. 2016. doi:10.1097/SLA.0000000000001688.