A thyroid ultrasound is a medical imaging technique that uses sound waves to create an image of the thyroid gland and its surrounding tissues, such as the lymph nodes and blood vessels.
The procedure is a painless and noninvasive test that can provide important information about the condition of the thyroid gland.
Ultrasound images can help your doctor determine if any abnormalities are present in the thyroid gland so that they can develop a treatment plan.
Why is the Thyroid Gland Important?
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped structure that sits at the base of your throat; for men, it is located just below your Adam’s apple.
The thyroid gland produces two main hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These thyroid hormones help to regulate metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature to maintain the body’s homeostasis.
Patients with thyroid gland dysfunction can experience numerous adverse health conditions, including joint pain, heart disease, infertility, and weight gain or loss.
What is An Ultrasound?
An ultrasound is a diagnostic medical procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal organs. The images are then displayed on a computer screen in real-time.
Ultrasounds examine the blood vessels, heart, liver, kidneys, and other organs.
Ultrasound is safe and does not use ionizing radiation. There is no known risk to the patient.
How Do You Prepare for a Thyroid Ultrasound?
To prepare for a thyroid scan, you do not need to fast before the procedure; you can eat and drink normally.
You should avoid taking medications containing iodine and current thyroid medications, which can interfere with the results.
Once you arrive at the hospital or imaging center, you will be asked to lie on a bed or exam table. The ultrasound technician will apply a small amount of lubricating gel to your neck and place a device called a transducer against your skin.
The transducer emits sound waves that bounce off the structures in your thyroid gland and are converted into images on a computer screen. The entire procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes.
Why Does a Doctor Order a Thyroid Ultrasound?
A doctor may order a thyroid ultrasound for several reasons, including to:
Check for Nodules or Cysts
Checking for thyroid nodules or cysts is integral to preventative health care. These growths can be benign, but they can also indicate the presence of a more severe condition such as multinodular goiters or thyroid cancer.
A simple physical exam can usually reveal the presence of a nodule or cyst. An imaging test may be necessary if the growth is small or difficult to see. Once the growth has been identified, your doctor may perform a fine needle aspiration biopsy and blood tests to determine whether it is benign or malignant.
Although nodules and cysts are relatively common, it is vital to have them checked out by a health care professional to rule out any potentially serious underlying conditions.
Get a Better Understanding of the Size and Shape of Your Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland can enlarge for various reasons, including Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease, and Thyroiditis.
An enlarged thyroid gland is known as a goiter. Goiters can be either diffuse (enlargement of the entire gland) or nodular (enlargement of one or more areas of the gland). Goiters can be harmless or cause problems with breathing, swallowing, or digesting food.
Determine the Severity of Any Suspected Thyroid Condition
Ultrasound scans are often used to detect the severity of any suspected thyroid condition. The ultrasound allows the doctor to see how well the thyroid functions and check for abnormal growth. The ultrasound can also help to determine if there is any damage to the thyroid gland.
Monitor the Progress of Treatment for Thyroid Disorders
Ultrasound is a common and effective way to monitor the progress of a thyroid disorder.
Ultrasound can be used to evaluate the size and shape of the gland and the number and size of any nodules present.
Ultrasound can also help to assess the blood flow to the gland, which can help determine whether or not a nodule is benign or malignant.
Ultrasound is used to guide fine needle biopsies, often performed to confirm a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. They are also used to guide thyroid radiofrequency ablation treatments, in which a heated electrode is inserted into the thyroid to destroy benign nodules.
Call Us Today for an Appointment
Let our professional and experienced staff help treat and manage your thyroid condition or call us for a consultative appointment if you suspect you may have a thyroid condition.