What is a Thyroid Ultrasound?
A thyroid ultrasound is a safe and painless diagnostic procedure that uses sound waves to produce real-time images of your thyroid gland and other anatomical structures within your neck.
Uses of a Thyroid Ultrasound
A thyroid ultrasound may be ordered to:
- Determine if a suspicious lump in your neck originates from your thyroid gland
- Look for additional thyroid nodules other than those felt on physical exam
- Determine if the thyroid nodule has grown larger
- Make an analysis of the appearance of a thyroid nodule
- Guide needle biopsies of the thyroid gland
How does a Thyroid Ultrasound Work?
Small pulses of inaudible, high-frequency sound waves are passed through the body from a special handheld device known as the transducer, which is pressed against the skin. The sound waves bounce off the internal anatomical structures and are captured by a sensitive receiver in the transducer. It is possible to measure the size, shape, and consistency of the internal anatomical structures, based on the variations in the pitch and direction of the returning sound waves.
Preparation for Thyroid Ultrasound
There is no specific preparation for the procedure. You may eat your normal diet and continue to take your regular medications unless otherwise specified.
Thyroid Ultrasound Procedure
The procedure for thyroid ultrasound involves the following basic steps:
- You will lie on your back on an examination table.
- A pillow will be placed underneath your shoulder to allow you to extend your neck.
- A water-based gel will be applied to the skin of the neck to prevent the formation of air pockets between your skin and a handheld transducer that could block the sound waves.
- The hand-held transducer is placed over the skin on the neck and moved back and forth to obtain the desired images which can be viewed in real time on a monitor.
- You will feel no discomfort during the procedure.
- When the imaging process is complete, the gel will be wiped off your skin.
- The entire procedure is usually completed in half an hour.
What happens after the Thyroid Ultrasound Procedure?
You can return to your routine activities after the procedure. A radiologist or trained doctor will analyze the images and send the report to your doctor, who will share the results with you.
Risks of a Thyroid Ultrasound
There are no known harmful effects from a standard diagnostic thyroid ultrasound procedure.
Benefits of Thyroid Ultrasound
- Painless and non-invasive procedure
- Does not involve the use of radiation
- Produces clearer images of soft tissues compared to X-rays
- Can help guide minimally invasive procedures as it can provide real-time images