When nodules are found in the thyroid, your doctor must determine the cause in order to recommend the right treatment plan. Typically, an ultrasound is obtained first. Depending on the appearance of the nodules on the ultrasound, a biopsy may need to be performed.
Unlike traditional surgical biopsies, ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies are less invasive and frequently can be performed in the office. The procedure uses sound waves to locate an abnormality within the thyroid and a hollow needle to remove a tissue sample for further examination under a microscope.
How to Prepare
Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions before the procedure. Most medications can be continued but you may be asked to temporary stop taking anticoagulants, or blood thinners, as they can increase your risk of bleeding. Common blood thinning agents include aspirin, Lovenox®, Plavix® and Coumadin®.
A non-toxic ultrasound gel will be applied to your neck during the procedure. Since the gel may get on your clothing or jewelry, it is recommended you wear comfortable clothing and remove your jewelry before the procedure.
How an Ultrasound Guided FNA is Performed
Your neck will be cleaned with an antiseptic and numbing medication may be used. A small amount of ultrasound gel is applied to the area; the gel allows sound waves to travel back and forth between the ultrasound transducer and the area under investigation.
The ultrasound is used to ensure accurate placement of the needle into the thyroid nodule. Once the location has been determined, a thin, fine gauge needle is inserted through the skin into the nodule. A sample of cells are extracted and put on a slide for a pathologist to review. If additional samples are required, new needles will be used.
Once the biopsy is complete, pressure is applied to decrease the risk of bleeding and a bandage is placed over the area if needed.
The procedure takes less than 30 minutes to complete.
Most patients can resume normal activities immediately following the procedure.
The site of the biopsy may be sore or tender for one to two days. Over-the-counter pain medication may be taken to relieve any discomfort.
Call Texas ENT & Allergy at (877) 377-4368 for more information or to schedule an appointment.