Thyroid ultrasound

Definition

A thyroid ultrasound is an imaging method to see the thyroid, a gland in the neck that regulates metabolism (the many processes that control the rate of activity in cells and tissues).

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 often done in the ultrasound or radiology department. It also can be done in a clinic.

The test is done in this 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 physical exam shows any of these findings:

Ultrasound is also often used to guide the needle in biopsies of:

Normal Results

A normal result will show that the thyroid has a normal size, shape, and position.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

Your health care provider can use these results and the results of other tests to direct your care. Thyroid ultrasounds are becoming better and predicting whether a thyroid nodule is benign or is a cancer. Many thyroid ultrasound reports will now give each nodule a score and discuss the characteristics of the nodule that caused the score. Talk to your provider about the results of any thyroid ultrasound.

Risks

There are no documented risks for ultrasound.


Review Date: 1/26/2020
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, board certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

This information should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.