If you are experiencing thyroid issues, your doctor may conduct an 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.
Learn more about the purpose of thyroid ultrasound, including how the procedure works and what types of thyroid conditions it is used to diagnose.
What Does Thyroid Ultrasound Show?
A thyroid ultrasound is a non-invasive test used to examine the thyroid gland. The procedure uses sound waves to create an external picture of your thyroid.
Ultrasound tests provide your doctor visual access to your thyroid gland, showing signs of possible abnormalities such as an enlarged gland. It enables doctors to make more effective diagnoses and plan treatments for thyroid medical conditions.
Thyroid ultrasounds are used when an initial physical exam indicates structural abnormalities or inflammation. According to medically reviewed studies, they are considered safe, useful, and cost-effective for visually assessing the thyroid gland and its pathology. The entire ultrasound procedure typically takes about ten minutes and allows your doctor to obtain results immediately.
Thyroid Ultrasound Procedure
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 neck.
You lie on your back with a pillow under your shoulders during the procedure. The pillow helps keep you comfortable as you hyperextend your neck, exposing the front area where the thyroid gland is located.
Your doctor applies a lubricant to your neck above your thyroid and 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. This allows your doctor to see if your thyroid is enlarged and if there are thyroid nodules or other abnormal tissue growths.
What Does a Thyroid Ultrasound Check For?
Thyroid ultrasounds are used to diagnose the following conditions:
If abnormal tissue is detected, the images can also be used to gain precise growth measurements 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. It can also help detect certain autoimmune illnesses, like Graves disease.
Post-surgery thyroid ultrasounds are standard for assessing the success of the procedure. Doctors can quickly determine the successful removal of nodules, tumors, or cysts. Due to the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of the procedure, thyroid ultrasounds are performed frequently to screen high-risk patients with a family history of thyroid issues.
In addition to being used as a diagnostic tool, thyroid ultrasound also functions as a guide for instruments during several types of thyroid-related biopsies. Doctors or technicians may need a thyroid ultrasound during a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) for thyroid nodules, parathyroid glands, or lymph nodes near your thyroid.
What Happens After a Thyroid Ultrasound?
Your doctor will conduct additional diagnostic testing if your test results show abnormal thyroid ultrasound images. The most common thyroid tests include a radioiodine thyroid scan that uses radioactive iodine to check for thyroid cancer and a thyroid function test that uses blood tests to check your thyroid hormone production and function.
Depending on the results of these additional tests, your doctor will offer medical advice on your treatment options. This may include surgery, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for benign thyroid nodules, or radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer. Conditions like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism may require hormone therapy.
Schedule Your Thyroid Ultrasound
If you suspect a thyroid condition, schedule a consultation with Associated Endocrinologists. Our experienced team of board-certified physicians has been serving Southeast Michigan since 1984. We can perform a thyroid ultrasound to determine the cause of your symptoms and outline a treatment plan based on the results.
Arrange your initial thyroid consultation through our online contact form or call our office today.