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What is a Thyroid Ultrasound?
The thyroid is a gland located in the neck that regulates metabolism. Ultrasound is a painless method of examining structures inside the body. This test involves high-frequency sound waves that are emitted and received by a transducer (a handheld instrument). These sound waves penetrate the body and are arranged into an image seen on a screen based on the way they bounce off of the various body structures.
Alternative Names: Ultrasound - thyroid; Thyroid sonogram; Thyroid echogram
How the test is performed:
The test is usually done in the ultrasound or radiology department. You will lie with your neck hyperextended (extended beyond its usual limit). Lubricant gel will be placed on your neck, and the transducer passed over the area.
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 conducting gel may be cold and your neck may feel stretched.
Why the test is performed:
Ultrasound is usually performed on the thyroid to differentiate between a cyst (a sac containing fluid) and a tumor (an abnormal tissue growth that may or may not be cancerous).
The thyroid is of normal size, shape, and position.
What abnormal results mean:
Abnormal results may be due to cysts, tumors, goiter (an enlargement of the thyroid gland), or thyroid nodules.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:
- Colloid nodular goiter
- Medullary carcinoma of thyroid
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) II
- Papillary carcinoma of the thyroid
- Thyroid cancer
What the risks are:
There are no documented risks of ultrasound.