Thyroid ultrasound scans

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Thyroid ultrasound scan

Thyroid ultrasound is becoming an extension of the physical examination. It is good for the detection and characterisation of thyroid nodules and recurrent thyroid cancer.

Thyroid scans are used to see:

  • Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
  • Thyroid nodule (lump or mass felt in the thyroid gland during a physical examination)
  • Thyroid discovered incidentally during other imaging tests
  • Monitoring size of thyroid nodules
  • Monitoring for disease recurrence in patients with thyroid cancer
  • Management of drug-induced hyperthyroidism
  • Diagnosis of a neck mass
  • Guidance of fine needle aspiration biopsy
  • Hyperparathyroidism
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The thyroid ultrasound scan

Thyroid ultrasound takes a series of images of the thyroid gland and other neck structures and so the physician can assess them for abnormalities. The whole test typically lasts between 15-30 minutes but this can vary depending on the complexity of the case.

You will be asked to lie flat and adequate neck extension is achieved by placing pillows under your shoulders. A transducer is moved over the neck to obtain a series images.

We will assess and measure the thyroid gland size, architecture, blood flow on Doppler evaluation. We will look for the presence of nodules, nodule size and characteristics and any other peri-glandular pathology like neck lymph nodes or parathyroid glands. Lastly we look for compression or displacement of adjacent structures like trachea or internal jugular vein.

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The thyroid ultrasound scan results

There are many conditions that can affect the thyroid gland. However, on ultrasound, the most common findings are the presence of thyroid lesions (lumps/mass).

Most lesions found are benign (not cancerous) . They are called thyroid nodules and are very obvious on the scan. Rarely however, a lesion may be cancerous and a biopsy may be recommended to be sure.

We will explain everything that we see on scan and give you a signed report of our findings and send them to your doctor or healthcare provider.

In the event of a problem being seen, you will need to make a doctors appointment as your GP is the best placed to explain the findings fully with you in the context of your full medical history and can refer you to a specialist if needed.