The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and outcomes of endoscopic subtotal thyroidectomy for Graves' disease. From August 1998 to April 2008, a total of 100 patients with benign thyroid diseases underwent endoscopic thyroidectomy via the breast approach. Among these patients, 42 underwent subtotal thyroidectomy for Graves' disease. The resection was successfully completed endoscopically in 41 patients (98%). Overall, the mean operating time, mean blood loss, and mean resected thyroid weight were 277 minutes, 76 ml, and 49.9 g, respectively. As the resected thyroid weight increased, the operating time was significantly prolonged and the blood loss significantly increased. Morbidities included one permanent and one temporary case of recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy with hypocalcemia. A hypertrophic scar was seen in the right breast medial margin in three men. Thyroid function was classified as euthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and recurrent hyperthyroidism in 5, 34, and 3 patients, respectively. At 92 months of median follow-up, two patients had modest operation-associated symptoms: one with swallowing discomfort and another with paresthesia in the anterior chest wall at the time of discharge. However, both patients' symptoms disappeared within 36 months after surgery. Young women were highly satisfied, with an overall mean satisfaction rating of 9.3 points. Although the endoscopic approach may be relatively contraindicated for large thyroid glands, endoscopic subtotal thyroidectomy via the breast approach is a safe, feasible procedure with excellent cosmetic benefits, and it may be the procedure of choice in carefully selected patients with Graves' disease.
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