Central Neck DissectionIn patients having a thyroidectomy due to thyroid cancer, it is sometimes necessary to perform a central compartment neck dissection as well. The world-renowned Head & Neck Surgeons at the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence in Los Angeles use minimally invasive techniques to perform central neck dissection and thyroidectomy procedures.

What is Central Neck Dissection?

The phrase “neck dissection” refers to the removal of lymph nodes in the neck in patients with varying types of head and neck cancers. A fairly common procedure in thyroid cancer patients, the goal of lymph node removal is to remove cancerous, pre-cancerous, or suspicious lymph nodes before the cancer spreads further.

A central compartment neck dissection refers specifically to the location of the lymph nodes being removed. In lymph node removal, the surgeon will remove the lymph nodes along the midline, or central region, of the neck. While there is a high concentration of lymph nodes throughout the neck, these central compartment lymph nodes are nearest the thyroid gland, thus the nodes that would be affected first if the cancer begins to metastasize.

How is this Operation Performed?

The team of thyroid surgeons at the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence always strives to perform central compartment lymph node removal in the least invasive manner possible. Oftentimes the procedure is performed at the same time as the minimally invasive thyroidectomy to reduce the trauma to the patient. The surgeon will make a less than one-inch incision and use endoscopic technology to remove the cancerous thyroid and surrounding lymph nodes.

Occasionally, a thyroid tumor and/or the lymph nodes are too large to be removed through minimally invasive means and traditional thyroidectomy and central neck dissection are necessary. No matter the technique being used, great care is always taken to minimize the amount of trauma to surrounding healthy tissue and to preserve the function of nearby internal structures. Using plastic surgery techniques to close the incision, our surgeons also do their best to minimize scarring.

Our Head & Neck surgeons are highly experienced at both minimally invasive and traditional thyroidectomies and boast high levels of patient satisfaction.


Researching the intricacies of thyroid cancer and all of the possible treatments can be a daunting task. Our surgeons at the Los Angeles Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence want to help you in this journey as much as possible, so they have compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about lymph node removal for you to reference. Please contact us if you have any more questions.

Q: I have thyroid cancer. How do I know if I will need a Central Neck Dissection?

A: Your doctors, likely an endocrinologist along with the thyroid surgeon, will examine your case, look carefully at all blood work, and do thorough imaging tests before the thyroidectomy. All of this testing and examination will give them a good idea of whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and which ones. Sometimes they can determine if lymph node removal is necessary while performing the thyroidectomy. The best advice is to speak openly with your doctor about all of your concerns prior to surgery and ask about central neck dissection.

Q: What does the recovery entail?

A: Lymph node removal surgery typically requires the use of drains in the incision site for a couple of days following surgery. You will be given detailed instructions on how to care for them once sent home and you will need to rest for several days. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help manage the discomfort and keep pain to a minimum. You will need to return for a follow up appointment with your surgeon about one week after the procedure. Every patient’s recovery is slightly different and greatly depends on the specific procedure performed. Your surgeon will give you post-op instructions for you to follow to ensure the quickest, easiest recovery possible.

Q: Who performs central compartment neck dissection?

A: A central compartment neck dissection is performed by an experienced, board-certified head and neck surgeon. The surgeons at the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence all have extensive training in treating thyroid cancer using the most cutting-edge techniques and state-of-the-art equipment available, and are among the best surgeons in the country.

Contact the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence

The renowned thyroid experts at the Los Angeles Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence are leaders in the minimally invasive treatment of thyroid cancer. Call us today at (888) 817-1439 if you or someone you love has thyroid cancer to schedule a consultation.

For more information on minimally invasive operations, contact our office today.

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Next, please read about laryngeal nerve monitoring.