Understanding Thyroid Ultrasounds And Biopsies

If you have been dealing with persistent excessive hair loss, unexplained weight gain and overwhelming fatigue, you should schedule a visit with your primary care doctor or general practitioner. He or she will test your thyroid's function to see if it is possibly the source of the problem. If you are also experiencing difficulties with swallowing, you may have nodules present on your thyroid. In that case, your doctor may order an ultrasound or a biopsy of your thyroid. Here's what you should know if this happens to you.

What Exactly is a Thyroid Ultrasound?

Thyroid ultrasounds are used to provide a clear picture of your thyroid for your doctor to evaluate. A gel product is applied to the skin over your thyroid, then a sonographer uses a small wand to send sound waves that bounce back from your thyroid to the wand. These waves are then converted into an image using the attached computer. The ultrasound is a real-time assessment of your thyroid condition, allowing your doctor to assess the presence and size of any nodules that may be there.

Why Would Your Doctor Need a Thyroid Ultrasound?

Many doctors request a thyroid ultrasound if they feel a lump around your thyroid. The ultrasound is used because it's the easiest way to identify the source of what your doctor can feel but cannot see. In addition, if you are diagnosed with thyroid nodules, the ultrasound is a good way for your doctor to monitor their growth. In some cases, if your nodules are growing, your doctor may need to order a biopsy. This is why it's important to monitor their size.

What Can You Expect of the Biopsy?

If it turns out that you do need a biopsy, your doctor will order an ultrasound for that as well. The ultrasound is used as a visual tool so that the doctor performing the biopsy can access the nodule easily. The biopsy requires the use of a small needle to draw cell samples from the thyroid or the nodules, so having that visual reference is important to ensure that the samples come from the right place. Since biopsies are the only reliable way to diagnose the presence of cancer, it's in your best interest to keep up with any ultrasounds and biopsy procedures that your doctor requests.

If your general practitioner or primary care doctor has suggested that you have an ultrasound or biopsy on your thyroid, understanding what's ahead can make it easier to approach. With the information here and the support of a great care team, you'll be able to get the treatment you need without the anxiety of an unfamiliar procedure. For more information, reach out to your doctor or Sound Family Health.