Hawkesbury Hospital has performed more than 100 successful thyroidectomies over the last three years, saving the lives of patients with severe thyroid disease.
The milestone demonstrates our local hospital's ability to offer specialist expertise at world-standard levels.
When an ultrasound found a nodule on local resident Maria's [surname withheld] thyroid, she was referred to endocrine and oncology surgeon at Hawkesbury Hospital, Dr Shadi Faraj, who determined that surgery was the best treatment.
Maria said when she made the decision to have the thyroidectomy, she was "quite nervous".
"I'm still quite young, and had never had an operation, so it was all unexpected and new to me. My biggest concern was the potential loss of my voice," she said.
"Dr Faraj patiently answered all my questions. He was so kind and reassuring and, after my consultation with him, I really felt confident about having the procedure."
Maria chose St John of God Hawkesbury Hospital for the procedure. Dr Faraj recently performed his 100th thyroidectomy there - an impressive milestone for a small hospital.
The high volume of procedures completed by Dr Faraj was made possible by the Hospital's investment in a state-of-the art intraoperative nerve monitoring (NIM) system, which monitors important nerves in the neck during surgery.
"Nerve monitoring is essential for good outcomes for thyroid procedures," said Dr Faraj, who has advanced training in various surgical approaches.
"Bleeding from vessels in the neck and damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerves are the biggest risks of thyroid surgery. Being able to visualise and identify nerves during the procedure with the NIM system makes this operation significantly safer.
"At Hawkesbury, we have the top-of-the-range NIM technology, which means we offer the same level of care and technology as do the large teaching hospitals in Sydney."
The Hospital has also established a dedicated thyroid ward - for both public and private patients - with nurses specially trained in post-operative care for thyroid patients.
Thyroid surgery is generally safe and successful, with a low complication rate, Dr Faraj said.
At Hawkesbury, the combination of a highly experienced surgeon, advanced technology and skilled nursing staff all contribute to its outstanding record in this procedure.
Maria was delighted with the outcome of her surgery. The delicate operative approach used for Maria's surgery meant she was left with just a small barely visible incision on her neck and within a few days, her life - and her voice - were back to normal.
"I'm very happy that it's over and everything went so well," said Maria. "I was treated so well at the Hospital. At reception, the staff were very helpful and supportive, and on the ward, the nurses checked on me every hour. The Hospital is small and different. It's a gentle place."
For Dr Faraj, it's rewarding to treat patients like Maria.
"With the increasing availability of ultrasounds and other diagnostic imaging, more patients like Maria are being diagnosed with thyroid abnormalities," said Dr Faraj.
"Early diagnosis means that treatment can ultimately save lives.
"To provide thyroidectomy patients with specialist expertise at world-standard levels in their own community is very gratifying. For a small hospital like ours, it's a great achievement."