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ABSTRACT: A man aged 80 and three women aged 66, 26, and 39 years respectively, underwent surgery for Graves' disease. The first woman had pneumonia and experienced thyrotoxic storm. Euthyroidism was restored with antithyroid drugs (ATD) and thyroidectomy was performed as ablative treatment for hyperthyroidism. The man presented with thyrotoxicosis and had severe Graves' ophthalmopathy. After euthyroidism was restored with ATD, he underwent subtotal thyroidectomy. The second woman presented with severe thyrotoxicosis but was allergic to ATD. She was treated with iodine and beta-blockers after which subtotal thyroidectomy was done as an ablative procedure. Medical treatment for hyperthyroidism failed in the last patient and, as she had experienced severe psychological disturbances during a previous relapse, she too chose surgery as a definitive treatment option. In two patients the postoperative course was complicated by early hypocalcaemia and one of these patients experienced temporary recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis. Surgery has a limited role in the treatment of Graves' disease. In pregnant women with severe ATD-resistant thyrotoxicosis, surgery is the only treatment option, while in patients with Graves' orbitopathy surgery may be preferable because of its neutral and perhaps even beneficial effects on eye symptoms. Large goitre size and thyroid nodules are concomitant reasons for choosing surgery, as are allergy to ATD and patients' preference. Lastly, in patients who have suffered from severe thyrotoxicosis, surgery provides rapid and definitive treatment. Early morbidity following surgery is common and should be discussed with the patient.Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde 07/2006; 150(24):1321-5.