Surgical Thyroidectomy Treatment for Feline Hyperthyroidism

Feline hyperthyroidism is an endocrine disorder that is due to an excess production of thyroid hormones in the cat’s body. The disease produces symptoms such as restlessness, increased appetite, weight loss and a poor appearance of the coat. Hyperthyroidism can be treated with medication therapy, surgery or radioactive iodine therapy.

Causes of Hyperthyroidism

The real cause of hyperthyroidism is not yet determined, but there are several theories. Research has showed that the excess secretion of thyroid hormones is caused by the lack of iodine in the cat’s diet.

Hyperthyroidism occurs most commonly is senior cats; the condition may be caused by a tumor that is located close to the thyroid gland.

The disease may occur as a side effect of certain medication or medication used for hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

The typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Dull coat

Thyroidectomy Treatment for Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid glands in cats are located on the right and left of the windpipe. These glands control the endocrine activity and the secretion of the thyroid hormone. The removal of the thyroid, also known as thyroidectomy is an effective treatment of hyperthyroidism. Unlike medication treatment, which should be administered for life, the surgery will treat the condition completely.

The surgery will require general anesthesia and the cat will stay in hospital for 3 to 5 days. Typically, both thyroid glands will need to be removed, being both hyperactive. In some cases, only a few malfunctioning tissues will be removed.

Before the surgery the cat receives antithyroid medication, to get to a normal level of thyroid hormones. The surgery involves certain risks, such as surgery risks (i.e. excessive hemorrhage and infection); in rare cases, the laryngeal nerve may be affected.

The cat must be closely monitored after the surgery; if the cat has fever, this may be a sign of infection. The thyroxine (T4) levels must also be monitored. The calcium levels may drop and this can cause seizures or even coma; however, this happens only in rare cases.

In rare cases, after the surgery, the cat may display symptoms of hyperthyroidism; these may be experienced temporary of for life.

Other Treatment Options

Medication treatment for hyperthyroidism in cats includes Methimazole, which should be administered for life.

Radioactive iodine therapy is another treatment option. This will treat hyperthyroidism completely. The practice includes the radiation of the thyroid gland, which will result in the elimination of the hyperactive thyroid cells. However, this therapy is expensive and often not chosen for this reason.

If left untreated, hyperthyroidism is dangerous for the cat’s life, leading to kidney failure. If you notice any of the hyperthyroidism symptoms, you should consult your vet and get appropriate treatment. Please note that hypothyroidism, or the insufficient production of thyroid hormones may present the same symptoms. A test measuring the thyroxine (T4) levels in the blood will let the vet know if there are thyroid problems in your pet.