The impact of surgeon volume on total thyroidectomy outcomes among otolaryngologists

Enrique Gorbea, David Y. Goldrich, Jay Agarwal, Roshan Nayak, Alfred Marc Iloreta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate the impact of surgeon volume on total thyroidectomy complications and outcomes among otolaryngologists. Materials and methods: This state-wide, multi-hospital retrospective review identified patients who underwent total thyroidectomy (TT) (ICD9–06.4) through the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) between 1995 and 2015. Surgeons were categorized into high (>100), medium (10–99), and low (<10) volume groups and differences in complication rates were analyzed. Statistical analysis employed Spearman's rank correlation, Kruskal-Wallis testing, and chi-squared testing. Results: 32,133 TT performed by 1032 otolaryngologists were identified. Overall complication rate in our cohort was 9.83% (CI: 9.48–10.18). The most common complication identified overall was hypocalcemia occurring in 3.85% of cases. Surgeons in the high volume group had a complication rate of 9.6%, compared to 10.0% and 11.6% in the medium and low volume groups. This represents a moderate, but statistically significant difference (rho: −0.4, p < 0.0001; KW p ≤0.0001). When looking at individual complications, temporary tracheostomy rate was higher in the low volume group (5.1%, p = 0.001). Other variables such as advanced age, sex, non-white race, or thyroid malignancy were not predictors of increased complication rates for TT. Conclusions: Otolaryngologists who perform a high volume of total thyroidectomy were found to have overall less perioperative complications than those with less volume. In particular, the risk of temporary tracheostomy is higher among low volume surgeons. These findings are consistent with previous studies of the effect of thyroidectomy volume on surgical complications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102726
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • General otolaryngology
  • Outcomes research
  • Recurrent laryngeal nerve
  • Thyroidectomy


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