Neck dissection is an intricate procedure in which all or some of the lymph nodes in the neck are removed due to the presence of cancer. The surgeons at the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence in Beverly Hills perform several types of neck dissection, including Selective Neck Dissection.


selective removal of lymph nodesWhat is Selective Neck Dissection?

Selective neck dissection involves the removal of some, but not all, of the lymph nodes in the neck. Sometimes thyroid cancer spreads to surrounding lymph nodes and makes it necessary for more than just the gland to be removed. When cancer is present in some of the cervical lymph nodes or the nodes have become abnormally enlarged, it may be necessary to remove them.

Because of the high concentration of lymph nodes in the neck region, these cancer cells can spread from the thyroid through several lymph nodes fairly easily. These cancer cells typically spread to other organs after first traveling through the lymphatic system, making selective lymph node removal critical in preventing the spread of the disease to other body systems.

Neck dissection is performed with great care to remove the affected lymph nodes while preserving the proper function of the surrounding structures, such as nerves that run to the voice box and shoulder, as well as the carotid and surrounding arteries. It is common for doctors to take a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancerous lymph nodes in the neck by collaborating with one another across disciplines to determine the best treatment for each individual neck cancer patient and to ensure a successful procedure.


Our doctors at our surgical center in Los Angeles know how difficult it can be to navigate the complex world of thyroid cancer. With that in mind, they have answered some of the questions they are most commonly asked about selective lymph node removal to help make this process easier for you.

Q: What is the recovery like after a selective neck dissection?

A: While recovering in the hospital after surgery, you will be prescribed pain medication to control pain and discomfort and you will likely have drains in place in the incision site. Drains may be necessary for a few days after surgery, but you will be advised on how to care for them when you go home. Your doctor will want you to return for a follow up visit approximately one week after surgery. The exact recovery time will depend on the extent of your surgery and amount of lymph nodes removed. Some patients will undergo physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in the neck that may be weakened after the neck dissection.

Q: What risks are involved with selective lymph node removal?

A: As with any surgery, there are some risks. Possible complications unique to lymph node removal include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Bleeding/hematoma
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Numbness in neck & lower portion of the ear
  • Injury to blood vessels that may require reconstruction
  • Injury to nerves that control the muscles to the lower lip, tongue, voicebox, and shoulder
  • Chyle leak (damage to the main lymph vessels that causes an accumulation of lymph in the neck)

Every patient is unique and responds to surgery differently. Feel free to bring up any concerns or questions you have with your surgeon during the consultation.

Q: Are there other treatment options?

A: There are a few possible options for treating thyroid cancer that has spread to the cervical lymph nodes. Instead of the surgical removal of the cancerous nodes through lymph node removal, your doctor may recommend radiation or chemo-radiation treatments. This decision will be made carefully by taking into consideration the type of cancer, its aggressiveness, and the location of the nodes. The experts at our surgical center in Los Angeles will examine your unique condition closely to determine which treatment option is most appropriate for you.

Contact the Los Angeles Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence

If you or someone you know is battling neck gland cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes, contact the team of experts at our surgical center in Los Angeles today. Our physicians will work collaboratively to determine the best possible treatment plan for your particular condition and to provide you with the safest, most cutting-edge treatments available. Call us today at (888) 817-1439 to schedule your consultation.

For more information on neck dissection, contact the Thyroid Surgery Center of Excellence.

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