Endocrine Surgery Program


The UCLA Head and Neck Endocrine Surgery Program includes endocrinologists, surgeons, radiologists and pathologists who are leaders in the identification and treatment of disorders of the thyroid and parathyroid glands. Patients from throughout the western United States come to the center for treatment of challenging problems requiring thyroid and parathyroid surgery.

Patient Care

Head and neck surgeons are the ideal specialists to manage difficult surgical problems of the thyroid and parathyroid because tumors of these glands often involve adjacent structures such as the larynx, trachea, esophagus and lymph nodes. While many cases of routine thyroid and parathyroid surgery can be successfully performed by non-specialty surgeons, UCLA head and neck endocrine surgeons are highly qualified to perform revision and challenging operations.

The surgeons of the UCLA Head and Neck Endocrine Surgery Program are highly trained oncologic surgeons, with a level of experience and skill that is unrivaled in the Southern California region. While the value of a head and neck oncology specialist is most apparent when a thyroid tumor has spread to surrounding structures, patients with small tumors of the thyroid and parathyroid glands also benefit from our expertise in minimally invasive thyroid and parathyroid surgery.

Thyroid disease

There are two broad categories of thyroid disorders that are treated. Patients with benign conditions such as goiter (benign thyroid enlargement) and Graves' disease are often managed medically by endocrinologists. For selected patients, particularly those with very large benign goiters, surgery is indicated. For malignant tumors, surgery usually is the treatment of choice. After appropriate workup, the goals of surgical treatment are discussed fully with the patient in the office.

Parathyroid disease

The parathyroid glands are four small glands located behind the thyroid gland. When functioning normally, the parathyroid glands regulate the level of calcium in the body. When one or more glands is overactive, surgery is often employed to remove one or more of the glands. Because the parathyroid glands are not always in predictable locations, considerable experience is helpful for parathyroid surgeons.

Program Approach

The surgeons of the UCLA Head and Neck Endocrine Surgery Program are among the most experienced surgeons in their field. Our surgeons also work collaboratively with colleagues in radiology, nuclear medicine, endocrinology, speech therapy and laryngology to ensure a multidisciplinary and individualized approach to therapy.

Our team also is expert in dealing with the potential impact of endocrine tumors on speech and swallowing. Furthermore, when tumors spread to the lymph nodes of the neck, the head and neck faculty are ideally suited to deal with this regional disease. New patients receive an initial consultation by a head and neck surgeon. If medical therapy is appropriate, consultation with an endocrinologist is arranged. There is close coordination with other treatment specialists for patients with malignancies.

Consultation reports on clinical findings and treatment recommendations are sent to referring physicians. Patients are returned to the care of their physicians upon conclusion of treatment.


Nagesh Ragavendra, MD


Sunita Bhuta, MD