People suffering from thyroid diseases require routine exams, blood tests, and thyroid screening. Endocrinologists (a doctor who is specialized in glands and the hormones they produce) monitor the gland and treat patients with abnormal thyroid conditions. If the exam or blood test indicates any abnormality, the doctor may recommend a thyroid ultrasound to diagnose.
What Is Thyroid Ultrasound?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck. It produces hormones that regulate the metabolism, growth, and development of your body.
Thyroid ultrasound /ultrasonography is the same as any other ultrasounds. Thyroid ultrasonography is a non-invasive, widely available, and painless method that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a two-dimensional picture of the gland on the screen and record several images.
Procedure for Thyroid Ultrasonography
The test is done in an ultrasound or radiology department. It can be done in a clinic. You can feel slight discomfort with the test but it’s normal.
The test comprises of following steps;
- Lie down with your neck on the pillow.
- The technician will apply the ultrasound gel (it may be cold) that helps the transducer to glide easily over the surface of your neck and removes the air pockets that can hinder the path of sound waves.
- The transducer or the ultrasound probe will be moved back and forth on your neck. The probe gives off sound waves that penetrate the skin and bounce back after hitting the thyroid gland. The pattern of the bounced back waves is recorded on the video screen and the image of the gland is formed.
How Long Does This Test Take?
Thyroid ultrasound is not a very lengthy process; it can be completed within 30 minutes or sometimes can extend up to 45 minutes.
How Should You Be Prepared for the Ultrasound Test?
A thyroid ultrasound does not require any special preparation. You just have to be attentive and mentally prepared as it may cause a little discomfort but that’s normal and it’s okay. You should avoid wearing jewelry or ornaments on your neck.
If you have neck pain (before the procedure) inform the technician so he could handle the transducer more gently and set you in a comfortable position.
That’s it and you are done with the test. So how long does it take for the radiologist to see through your lumpy neck – just 30 minutes?
Why Exactly is Thyroid Ultrasonography Needed?
Presence of Nodules or Lumps
A thyroid ultrasound is done to ensure the presence of nodules or lumps in the thyroid gland. About 5 to 10 percent of thyroid nodules are identified by the doctors on physical examination; in contrast to this, the remaining non-palpable masses are seen through the ultrasound.
The Appearance of the Nodules
Thyroid Ultrasonography also helps in checking the appearance of the nodule and differentiating between benign and malignant tumors based on sonographic patterns. Moreover, it is also done to check whether the nodule has substantially grown over time or not.
To Guide in Diagnostic Intervention and Prognosis
Ultrasonography of the thyroid gland helps in biopsy by improving the accuracy through ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) which has become a diagnostic method for high-risk thyroid nodules that may grow into cancer.
Limitations And Risks Associated With Thyroid Ultrasound.
Although this widely available and efficient technique has benefitted doctors in diagnostic intervention, it is still incapable of determining thyroid function– that is, whether the gland is normal, hyperactive, or hypoactive. For this purpose, your doctor may order further tests including radioactive iodine uptake and blood tests.
Thyroid ultrasonography is a non-invasive procedure that involves no radiation, it is safe and poses no risk. You can immediately resume your normal activities once you are done with the test.
Contraindications of Thyroid Ultrasound
Apart from pregnancy, there are no contraindications of thyroid ultrasound. But if a pregnant woman is suffering from a thyroid disease or encounters a nodule, the diagnostic approach would be the same as for a non-pregnant woman that is – ultrasound followed by a biopsy if needed. Radioactive tests would be inhibited in the case of pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Are You Hoping For Quick Results of a Quick Test?
How long will it take to get the results? You may be told the results soon after the test is carried out but sometimes the images need to be analyzed and summarized by the radiologist in the form of a report, to be sent to your consultant doctor. Since thyroid ultrasound is an efficient and less time-consuming procedure, it won’t be unwise or impatient if you anticipate quick results.
You should get the results within 1 or 2 weeks. The radiologist will analyze the images and deduce the results in the form of a report, which is either sent to your doctor directly or handed over to you. Your doctor will explain to you the results and may ask for the follow-up visits, if necessary.
Result Interpretation – Time To Worry Or Hurry!
Ultrasound reports can either be normal or they may show some abnormality, due to;
- Cysts or inflamed nearby lymph nodes
- Thyroid nodules
- Enlarged thyroid ( due to underlying thyroid diseases like a goiter or autoimmune disorders)
- Thyroid cancer ( subjective to biopsy)
Since thyroid nodules are very common, initially they could be considered as tumors or cancers. In fact, according to a medical report approx, 50 percent of Americans would have at least one nodule by the time they are aged 60 years. The vast majority of thyroid nodules are benign and they can be treated, sometimes even without surgery. If a nodule happen to have the appearance and characteristic of cancer, that’s the right time to worry and hurry, your doctor would recommend a biopsy and follow-up visits to monitor the growth of the nodule
Treatment of Nodules Aided by Thyroid Ultrasound
Thyroid nodules treatment interventions are based on ultrasound. Ultrasonography has been helpful in detecting preoperative malignancy through Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB). Once malignancy is confirmed, thyroid cancer requires surgical removal of the gland (thyroidectomy) or some part of the gland (lobectomy).
Whereas benign nodules are also removed either surgically or through an advanced technique called radiofrequency ablation (RFA) It is a simple technique that uses a probe to detect the nodule, under ultrasound guidance, it sends an electric current and heat that shrinks the nodule.
Ultrasonography is a health-friendly technique that can examine almost every organ of your body. Thyroid ultrasonography has proven to be effective in various interventions. Is it a long process? no it is a quick and efficient test that can easily be carried out in a clinic setup in under 30 minutes with no extra care or precautions.
HG Analytics is a reliable platform that offers excellent health care programs including thyroid screening. The thyroid screening that we offer is cheap and easily accessible with no hassle. In addition to this, all the programs under the shadow of preventive medicine are well designed and are highly encouraged.
Call us to discuss your health and medical history or book an appointment at your earliest for your thyroid screening and be a part of our initiative encouraging preventive medicine and quality health care management.