Thyroid ultrasound

Definition

A thyroid ultrasound is an imaging method to view the thyroid, a gland in the neck that regulates metabolism.

How the Test is Performed

Ultrasound is a painless method that uses sound waves to create images of the inside of the body. The test is usually done in the ultrasound or radiology department. It also can be done in a clinic.

The test is done in the following way:

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is necessary for this test.

How the Test will Feel

You should feel very little discomfort with this test. The gel may be cold.

Why the Test is Performed

A thyroid ultrasound is usually done when you have a growth on your thyroid gland or when a routine exam finds that the thyroid feels big. The exam can help tell the difference between a nodule containing fluid (cyst), and a nodule that is solid and may contain abnormal tissue that may or may not be cancerous (a tumor). Sometimes the thyroid is enlarged without any nodules.

Normal Results

The thyroid is of normal size, shape, and position.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

Your doctor can use these results and the results of other tests to direct your care.

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed include the following:

Risks

There are no documented risks of ultrasound.


Review Date: 5/10/2014
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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