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What is In-Office Thyroid or Neck Ultrasound and Biopsies?

The thyroid gland, located in front of the neck region is responsible for the production of thyroid hormones. These hormones control various body functions such as regulation of metabolism and body temperature. Problems caused by abnormalities in the thyroid hormone can be managed well with early diagnosis and treatment. Some of the in-office diagnostic procedures are listed below.

Thyroid ultrasound

Ultrasound imaging is a diagnostic procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the internal structures of your body. Thyroid ultrasound is recommended to check for lumps, gland enlargement and other abnormalities, such as cysts, nodules and tumors.

During the procedure, you will lie down on your back on a table with your neck stretched out and supported below by a soft pillow. Your technician applies a gel on your neck to enhance the transmission of sound waves. A transducer is pressed against your neck and passed back and forth. This directs sound waves into the body, which bounce back into the transducer to be converted into an image. Any abnormalities in the thyroid gland can be viewed on a video monitor. This is a non-invasive and harmless procedure.

Thyroid biopsies

A thyroid biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which a tissue sample is removed from the thyroid gland and examined for infection and cancer. Biopsy can be carried out under local or general anesthesia depending upon the procedure.

  • Ultrasound-guided thyroid fine-needle aspiration biopsy: Fine needle aspiration is the most common method used for the diagnosis of a suspicious thyroid nodule. It is performed under ultrasound guidance to facilitate the identification of the suspicious tissue lesion and accurate placement of the biopsy needle. Gel is applied on the skin over the thyroid gland and an ultrasound transducer is glided over the region. Guided by the ultrasound images, your radiologist inserts the biopsy needle into the gland and removes a sample of tissue.
  • Core needle biopsy: Core needle biopsy uses a wider needle that allows the extraction of a core of tissue through its hollow needle tube.
  • Open biopsy: Open biopsy is a surgical procedure where a small incision is made in your neck to access the thyroid gland and remove a sample of tissue or lump. The incisions are then closed with stitches.

The tissue sample collected by any of these methods is sent to the laboratory for examination of abnormalities. Your treatment will be based on the results of the laboratory findings.

As with any procedure, thyroid biopsies may involve certain risks and complications which include bleeding and infection at the site of biopsy, and injury to the adjacent structures.