Prevention and management of bleeding in thyroid surgery
Post-thyroidectomy neck hematoma represents a major concern for surgeons because it can result in severe and even life-threatening complications. In fact, postoperative hemorrhage may result in airway compression and respiratory distress, and therefore, effective hemostasis is an important goal in thyroid surgery. Postoperative hematoma occurs at a rate of approximately 0.1% to 1.1%. Almost all cases occur in the first 6 h after surgery and can be the result of several surgeon or patient factors. For many years the clamp-and-tie technique has been the most common way to divide the main vascular pedicles of the thyroid gland. Alternatively, bipolar electrocautery has been used for only very small vessels. Other hemostatic systems have been introduced and proved to be potentially very useful in neck surgery and, in particular, for thyroid surgery. This new class of instruments is generally known as “energy devices” because they use different forms of energy, such as advanced bipolar (LigaSureTM Small Jaw Medtronic, Covidien product, Mineapolis, MN, USA) and ultrasound (Harmonic Focus; Ethicon, Johnson and Johnson, Cincinnati, OH, USA), and hybrid devices that join these two technologies (Thunderbeat by Olympus, Japan). Although they all generate a significant elevation of temperature in the tissues, as in any form of energy, the temperatures reached by these instruments are never as high as the standard monopolar electrocautery. For small bleeding very close to critical structures, where energy devices are too dangerous to be used and clamp and tie is not possible, several studies have assessed the use of adjunctive hemostatic agents. In conclusion, all energy devices have been shown to significantly decrease operative times without increasing costs or complications. Adjunctive hemostatic agents have shown equivalent differences when added to standard methods from a clinically significant perspective.