Did Your Doctor Order A Thyroid Ultrasound? Here's What You Should Know
If you find yourself struggling with persistent weight gain paired with overwhelming fatigue and hair loss, your doctor may opt to test your thyroid function. If your visit to the doctor includes a complaint of difficulty swallowing or your doctor determines that your thyroid is enlarged, he or she may request an ultrasound. Here's a look at what you should know about thyroid ultrasounds and what to expect.
Understanding the Basics
An ultrasound will provide a clear picture of your thyroid by using sound waves. The technician will apply gel to your skin, then use a wand to examine your thyroid. The picture is a real-time evaluation of your thyroid's condition, allowing your doctor to spot any issues such as swelling, nodules or other problems.
Reasons for a Thyroid Ultrasound
Your doctor will order an ultrasound of your thyroid for many reasons. If he or he feels a lump of any kind, an ultrasound will help identify if it is on your thyroid or somewhere else. It also makes it easy for your doctor to monitor the condition of any nodules on your thyroid. This will help your doctor identify the need for biopsy as well. Biopsies are typically requested if subsequent ultrasounds show growth in the nodules.
Ultrasounds are also typically used to provide line of sight for a needle biopsy. Since you need to reach the thyroid to obtain the cells for this, your doctor will typically use the ultrasound as a way to guide the needle to the correct location.
Why Might Your Doctor Request a Biopsy?
If there are nodules appearing on the ultrasound, your doctor will want to monitor them closely. Sometimes, nodules growing on your thyroid can be tumors, and your doctor will want to know if the nodules are cancerous or not. If your doctor is seeing the nodules grow larger from one ultrasound to the next, he or she will likely request a biopsy right away to be sure that the nodules are benign. An ultrasound alone cannot determine this, but does help to determine the need for further testing.
Any time you're diagnosed with a thyroid condition, your doctor will monitor the size and shape of your thyroid. While this usually starts by feeling your thyroid by hand, ultrasounds are the next line of defense to monitor your condition and identify potentially serious conditions. If your doctor has requested an ultrasound of your thyroid, this information can help you understand why and what it can tell you. If you suspect problems with your neck or throat, contact a healthcare office such as Alpine Ear, Nose & Throat, PC.