The thyroid is a gland that provides our body with an essential hormone called thyroxine. The gland is located at the front of the neck and is not visible unless it is enlarged with nodules. For most people, the first awareness of a thyroid problem occurs after a health screen. This is because one of the common blood tests within the screening panel is a thyroid function test (TFT).

Who needs a thyroid consultation?

There are essentially only two main types of problems that can occur with the thyroid gland that requires a doctor’s attention:

  1. Hormone production

Both the over-production (hyperthyroidism) or under-production (hypothyroidism) of thyroxine can affect our health and therefore need treatment. While symptoms may sometimes be present, a simple blood test (TFT) is sufficient to make the diagnosis. Your doctor may order further tests to diagnose any underlying autoimmune conditions.

See my other post for a better understanding of these symptoms.

There are medications to correct both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Patients are generally required to take them for the long term with regular blood tests to ensure the correct dosage is maintained.

      2. Overgrowth of gland and/or thyroid nodules

A normal gland is neither visible nor palpable in the neck. Not surprisingly, some patients become aware of a thyroid growth when they look in the mirror or are informed by a significant other. Sometimes, that person may turn out to be a masseuse or hairdresser!

It’s important that tests may be made done to distinguish between a benign and a cancerous growth.

What tests will my specialist order?

  • Basic blood test to check the thyroid function
  • Specialized blood tests to check for underlying autoimmune conditions or thyroid cancer markers
  • Ultrasound of the thyroid and neck
  • Specialized imaging such as CT or MRI scans
  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy for thyroid nodules

What’s the difference: Outpatient vs Inpatient?

All the above investigations can be performed in the outpatient setting. This means the patient attends the specialist clinic or the radiology facility at an appointed time, completes the tests and goes home after. The results may sometimes be available within the same day. This is important to note as the patient and the accompanying person may need to set aside sufficient time for both the tests and results.

A thyroid surgery, on the other hand, requires an inpatient admission. Depending on the type of surgery, the hospital stay may be 1-3 days.

What is a thyroidectomy?

A thyroidectomy is a surgical procedure to remove one thyroid lobe (hemithyroidectomy) or both lobes (total thyroidectomy). In addition, a lymph node dissection is necessary for cases of thyroid cancer. A thyroidectomy requires general anaesthesia and is most commonly performed by the traditional open method which requires a 2-inch incision along the skin crease of the neck.

Thyroid surgery is very safe when performed by an experienced surgeon and complications are uncommon. Complications such as post-surgical bleeding, post-surgical hypoparathyroidism and nerve injuries may prolong the hospital stay and lead to higher costs.

What are the costs of thyroid treatment?

In Singapore, the costs for thyroid tests and treatment may be covered by a combination of private insurance (Integrated Shield Plan) and Medisave (patient’s or next-of-kin’s). Our clinic staff will check if you are entitled for a complete or partial coverage, and whether upfront payment is necessary with a reimbursement from the insurer.

Thomas Ho Surgery is a MediClaim-accredited clinic and has partnered with most Integrated Shield Plan insurers to provide patients with a stress-free experience.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has published a fee benchmark which is the recommended range of fees for inpatient specialist attendance and procedures performed in the private medical setting. The published procedures are listed by TOSP code (table of surgical procedure) and includes the anesthetist fee.

Check out the MOH website: www.moh.gov.sg/billsandfees

For thyroid treatment, the procedural fees are:

Fine needle biopsy ($900)

Hemithyroidectomy ($8450)

Total thyroidectomy ($11750)

While these fees are just a guide, most specialists do not exceed them unless the condition under treatment is deemed to be more complex. The final hospital bill will include operating theatre and hospital facility fees, ward charges, laboratory processing fees and surgical consumables. Ward charges are determined by room types (eg. Single bed being more expensive than 2-bedders)

The staff at Thomas Ho Surgery look forward to any enquiries that you may have. Please contact us at +65 6261 8311 (clinic operating hours) or Whatsapp at +65 8809 2724

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