If you are experiencing thyroid issues, your doctor may conduct a thyroid ultrasound to identify possible thyroid disorders. A thyroid ultrasound is a non-invasive procedure that allows your doctor to see your thyroid and look for nodules or other issues causing problems with your thyroid function.
Explore the purpose of thyroid ultrasound, including how the procedure works and what types of thyroid conditions it is used to diagnose.
What is Thyroid Ultrasound?
A thyroid ultrasound is a non-invasive test used to examine the thyroid gland. Also called a thyroid scan, a thyroid ultrasound scrutinizes your thyroid using sound waves to create an external picture of your thyroid.
Ultrasound tests allow your doctor visual access to your thyroid gland. This access helps them detect structural abnormalities for more effective diagnosis and treatment of thyroid medical conditions.
Thyroid ultrasounds are used when indicated by an initial physical exam. They are considered painless, inexpensive, quick, and accurate. The entire procedure typically takes about ten minutes and allows your doctor to obtain results immediately.
How is Thyroid Ultrasound Performed?
When you undergo a thyroid ultrasound, your doctor uses a tool called a transducer to scan your thyroid. Before the procedure, you must remove your jewelry and wear a loose, low-cut shirt or garment so your doctor can access your thyroid. You lie on your back with a pillow under your shoulders during the procedure. The pillow helps to hyperextend your neck, exposing the front area where the thyroid gland is located.
Your doctor applies lubricant to your neck above your thyroid then passes the transducer over the area. The water-based jelly helps the sound waves emitted by the transducer travel through the skin.
As the transducer passes over your thyroid, sound waves travel into your body and bounce back, creating a 2-D image of your thyroid on a monitor attached to the transducer.
The thyroid ultrasound allows your doctor to see if your thyroid is enlarged or if there are thyroid nodules or other abnormal tissue growths.
What is Thyroid Ultrasound Used For?
Thyroid ultrasounds are used to diagnose the following thyroid conditions:
The ultrasound allows doctors to discover the presence of irregular thyroid tissue growth and obtain precise measurements of the growth to help with diagnosis and treatment. Advanced ultrasound technology also allows doctors to identify internal structures of thyroid nodules, cysts, and tumors and differentiate between malignant and benign masses.
Post-surgery, thyroid ultrasounds are used to determine the successful removal of nodules, tumors, or cysts. They are also used as a non-invasive way to screen high-risk patients who have a family history of thyroid issues.
In addition to its use as a diagnostic tool, thyroid ultrasound is also used to guide instruments during several types of thyroid-related biopsies. Your doctor may use thyroid ultrasound during a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) for thyroid nodules, for biopsy of the parathyroid gland, or to biopsy lymph nodes near your thyroid.
What Happens After a Thyroid Ultrasound?
If your test results show abnormal ultrasound images, your doctor will conduct additional diagnostic testing. The most common thyroid tests include a radioiodine scan that uses radioactive iodine to check for thyroid cancer; a thyroid function test using different thyroid hormones; or blood tests to check your thyroid function.
Depending on the results of these additional tests, your doctor will offer medical advice on your treatment options. This may include surgery or thyroid radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for benign thyroid nodules or radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer. It could also include hormone therapy for conditions like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Schedule Your Thyroid Ultrasound
If you suspect you may have a thyroid condition, schedule a consultation with Associated Endocrinologists. Our experienced team of board certified physicians has been serving Southeast Michigan since 1984.
Your doctor can perform a thyroid ultrasound to determine the cause of your symptoms and outline a treatment plan based on the results.