Aim. The continued hospitalization after total thyroidectomy is often due to the onset of hypocalcemic complications more than 24 hours after surgery. So it would be important to predict which patients will not develop the hypocalcemic complication to discharge them early. This was the aim of our study.
Patients and methods. Our retrospective study was conducted on 327 consecutive thyroidectomized patients, operated on for benign and malignant diseases. We evaluated the values of preoperative serum calcium levels (Cal0) and of the first postoperative day (Cal1) and two new variables were calculated (dCal and dCaln). The same thing was made on a subgroup of 111 patients in whom also parathiroyd hormone (PTH) values were detected. Statistical analysis was performed with the goal of determining if we could establish a safe criterion for discharge at 24 hours after surgery and if there is a correlation between suitability for discharge and diagnosis.
Results. As to discharge, the predictive power of the discriminant function applied was significant both on the total of patients and in the subgroup of 111 patients, but it was clinically unacceptable because it would expose us to a 21% to 27% error rate. It is not possible to identify a threshold, below which to consider patients surely dischargeable. The diagnosis does not appear correlated with the suitability for discharge.
Conclusion. On the basis of serum calcium and PTH levels in the first postoperative day, it is impossible to predict which patients can be discharged 24 hours after surgery without incurring in hypocalcemic complications.
KEY WORDS: Total thyroidectomy - Early discharge - Hypocalcemia - Postoperative bleeding - Recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy.