Cleveland Clinic

Thyroid Disorders Commonly Underdiagnosed, Putting Patients at Risk for Various Diseases

Cleveland Clinic Florida Details New Advanced Screening, Treatment Options


It is estimated that 200 million people worldwide have some form of thyroid disease with a recent 2017 study showing a significant increase in thyroid cancer in the last 50 years.


Despite widespread incidence of thyroid disorders, doctors fear that far too many cases go undiagnosed. According to Dr. Arlington Lightbourne of The Wellness Center, Nassau, thousands of Bahamians suffer from thyroid disorders.


“Undiagnosed thyroid disease may put patients at risk for certain serious conditions, such as infertility, osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Lightbourne. “From a wellness point of view, there are auto-immune causes that affect the thyroid gland. You eat a food that the body does not appreciate, or you are exposed to some drug that the body does not appreciate and you develop antibodies that attack the thyroid gland. Once you are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, the condition can be managed. Management may involve a medical route or a lifestyle change.”


Rosemarie Metzger, MD, an endocrine surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Florida, specializes in the surgical management of thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal gland disorders. While not all people with a thyroid disorder will require surgery, there are several types of thyroid disorders that are best managed with surgery.  This can include goiter (significant enlargement of the thyroid), nodules (growths inside the thyroid), Graves disease (an autoimmune disease leading to over production of thyroid hormone), and thyroid cancer. 


Dr. Metzger performs her own office-based ultrasound and ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsies, if needed, to expedite diagnosis so the proper course of treatment may begin, which can, but not always, include surgery. Even when surgery is recommended, she notes that with today’s advances, most patients are able to avoid an overnight stay in the hospital. According to Dr. Metzger, the average length of an incision for the surgical removal of the thyroid is approximately two inches, although the length of the incision depends on the size of the thyroid.  A very large thyroid will understandably require a larger incision for removal.


“I’m very conscientious of the fact that these surgeries include an incision in a highly visible area of the body.  I therefore use several techniques to minimize the visibility of the scar,” adds Metzger. “The fact that we specialize in basic and advanced thyroid disorders puts patients at ease that they’re receiving the best and most advanced care available.”


Cleveland Clinic Florida endocrinologists are experts at diagnosing and treating a number of diseases and disorders and are continually ranked in the top ten in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Endocrine conditions are often complex and involve many systems within the body. It is important to discuss any signs of possible thyroid disease with your doctor and seek treatment if diagnosed, in order to avoid more serious complications.​