Our team of specialists provides expert thyroid care. Our physicians are at the forefront of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer management.
Why Choose UCLA Health for Thyroid Care?
The UCLA Health Thyroid Center has a long history of excellence and innovation in the treatment of thyroid disease. Our physicians provide exceptional clinical care, help establish treatment guidelines, conduct research, and train the next generation of physicians.
Highlights of our program include:
Recognized expertise: The UCLA Health Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism consistently ranks among the top programs of its kind in the nation. Many of our physicians are regularly recognized among Los Angeles Magazine’s “Top Doctors” and the Los Angeles Times’s “Super Doctors.”
Team-based approach: Your care is in the hands of a team of specialized experts. Our endocrinologists specializing in thyroid care collaborate with leaders in endocrine surgery, head and neck surgery, radiology, nuclear medicine, oncology, radiation oncology and pathology to bring you effective treatment.
Convenient access: Our thyroid specialists practice in multiple locations throughout the UCLA Health network. You have access to exceptional thyroid care close to home.
Care coordination: Our patient navigator helps ensure that your experience goes smoothly. They can help you find a doctor near you or prepare for appointments with other specialists, as needed.
Research focus: UCLA Health researchers are at the forefront of clinical and laboratory research in thyroid disease. Our faculty regularly publish their research to help advance thyroid care.
Types of Thyroid Conditions We Treat
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland at the front of your neck. It produces hormones that help regulate many of your body’s functions, including metabolism, GI function, weight, sense of temperature, and heart rate. Some health problems can cause your thyroid to produce too many or too few hormones, interfering with these functions.
Our team treats all types of diseases and cancers affecting your thyroid, including:
- Graves’ disease: This autoimmune condition can lead to overproduction of thyroid hormones.
- Hashimoto’s disease: This autoimmune disease impacts the thyroid and may lead to underproduction of thyroid hormones.
- Hyperthyroidism: The thyroid is overactive and produces too much hormone.
- Hypothyroidism: The thyroid is underactive and produces too little hormone.
- Thyroid cancer: Irregular cells form in the thyroid gland.
- Thyroid disease in pregnancy: The thyroid may become underactive or overactive during pregnancy.
- Thyroid nodules: Growths form in the thyroid gland and may be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).
- Thyroiditis: Temporary inflammation of the thyroid gland.
Tests and Treatments We Offer
Thyroid problems can be challenging to diagnose because the symptoms often overlap with other conditions. Typically, evaluation starts with your primary care physician who performs a physical exam and orders blood tests.
If your tests show signs of a thyroid disorder, your primary care physician may refer you to an endocrinologist, a physician who specializes in hormone conditions. Endocrinologists have experience in the newest thyroid treatments and can help you effectively manage a thyroid condition.
Diagnosing thyroid problems
Your primary care provider or endocrinologist may use several tests to detect thyroid problems, including:
- Physical exam: Your doctor may feel your neck to check for growths or enlargement in your thyroid.
- Blood tests: Blood tests check your thyroid function and hormone levels. You may have tests that evaluate your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroxine (T4), triiodothyronine (T3), or thyroid antibody levels, as needed.
- Imaging: Your physician may order a thyroid ultrasound, which uses sound waves to create an image of your thyroid.
- Thyroid uptake and scan: This nuclear medicine test gives your physician more information about your thyroid function and structure. You receive a radiotracer, a safe amount of radioactive material, through an oral capsule . The radiotracer gathers in areas of the body that could contain inflammation or tumor cells and shows up clearly on an imaging scan.
- Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: Your physician or a radiologist uses ultrasound guidance and small needles to get a sample of cells and tissue from your thyroid nodules to assess your risk for thyroid cancer. Additional tests may be ordered to look at the genetics of the sample, as needed.
Treating thyroid problems
Depending on your specific diagnosis and needs, your thyroid treatment may include:
- Anti-thyroid medications: This type of medicine stops your thyroid from overproducing hormones.
- Beta blockers: These drugs don’t affect your hormone levels, but they help manage hyperthyroidism symptoms.
- Thyroid hormone replacement medications: These medications replace the thyroid hormone that your body is unable to make if you have hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid function.
- Radiofrequency ablation: A team of radiologists uses radio waves to direct heat to thyroid nodules, shrinking or destroying the irregular tissue.
- Radioactive iodine therapy: You take an oral capsule that targets thyroid cells. It may be used to treat hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer.
- Thyroidectomy: A surgeon removes part or all of your thyroid gland. If you have a total thyroidectomy, you will need to take hormone replacement medications long-term. This surgery can be used to treat thyroid cancer and nodules.
Our endocrinologists specialize in diagnosing and treating thyroid disease. They work with a team of subspecialists to bring you the latest therapies, including clinical trials.