Once a thyroid lump or mass has been detected (or suspected), there are a few things that your physician wants to know before any recommendations can be made regarding your diagnosis and treatment. The vast majority of thyroid nodules are benign and nothing to worry about, so the focus is on determining which one has any reasonable chance of being cancerous. At Radiology Associates of Hartford, we offer thyroid ultrasound and thyroid biopsies at our Avon, Enfield and Gastonbury, CT locations. To learn more or to schedule, please call (860) 969-6400.
Thyroid ultrasound will help tell us if the nodule has a low chance of being cancerous (benign), or that it has some characteristics of a cancerous (malignant) nodule and therefore a biopsy is indicated. Keep in mind, that ultrasound alone cannot make the diagnosis of cancer.
Thyroid ultrasound is a simple test that uses sound waves to image the thyroid. The sound waves are emitted from a small hand-held transducer which is passed over the thyroid. A lubricant jelly is placed on the skin so that the sound waves transmit easier through the skin and into the thyroid and surrounding structures.
This test is quick, accurate, painless, inexpensive and completely safe. It usually takes only about 10 minutes and the results are sometimes available almost immediately.
Thyroid Biopsy (Fine-Needle Aspiration)
A biopsy is generally performed when an abnormal mass or lump has been found in the thyroid. Fine-needle aspiration is the only non-surgical way to distinguish a benign from a malignant nodule and usually should be the first diagnostic test performed. It is safe, inexpensive, and effective.
How should I prepare for a thyroid biopsy?
- Wear comfortable clothes with a separate top and bottom
- Do not wear talcum powder, deodorant, lotion, or perfume at the location of the biopsy
- Remove all jewelry
- Do not take blood thinning medications, including aspirin, for four (4) days prior to the procedure. (Check with your doctor before stopping any medications to ensure it’s safe)
- Bring any images and reports you have that were not done by Radiology Associates of Hartford
What should I expect during the biopsy?
The biopsy is done with a small needle, and local anesthesia is not generally required.
Professional staff – Our board-certified radiologist and certified ultrasonographer will be with you throughout the entire test. The radiologist performing the biopsy will meet you to further discuss the procedure and answer your questions.
Patient comfort – Our technologist will position you on a table. You will be asked to lie on your back. A pillow will be placed under the shoulders and the neck will be extended.
Clean Environment – The biopsy site will be cleansed with a sterile antiseptic solution.
Accuracy – Your radiologist will use image guidance in performing the biopsy to obtain tissue from an exact location and to avoid injuring important nearby body parts.
Procedure – A thin needle will be inserted into the thyroid, and a sample of thyroid cells and some fluid will be collected. The needle will be quickly withdrawn. Pressure will be applied at the biopsy site to stop the bleeding and a bandage may be used to cover the area.
Evaluation – The cells are placed on a microscope slide, stained, and sent to a professional pathologist for examination.
Minimal disruption to your schedule – The test takes three to five minutes.
Aftercare – You may experience soreness at the site of the biopsy, but it should quickly improve. You can take over the counter pain relievers or use ice packs to minimize any discomfort.
How do I obtain results?
After your thyroid biopsy is completed, we will be happy to answer any questions you have regarding follow-up care with your physician and getting the results of your test.
Interpretation of results – Lab results are typically sent to the radiologist within two to three days. Upon receipt of the lab results, the radiologist that performed the biopsy will review the lab results and prepare a report of findings and suggestions. Your biopsy report will be sent to your referring physician. Your referring physician will discuss the results with you and may diagnose, recommend other tests, or begin treatment based on the biopsy report.