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Thyroid ultrasound

Definition

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

Alternative Names

Ultrasound - thyroid; Thyroid sonogram; Thyroid echogram

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.

References

Salvatore D, Davies TF, Schlumberger MJ, et al. Thyroid physiology and diagnostic evaluation of patients with thyroid disorders. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 11.

Solbiati L, Charboneau JW, Reading CC, et al. The thyroid gland. In: Rumack CM, Wilson SR, Charboneau JW, Levine D. Diagnostic Ultrasound. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 18.


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.
The information provided herein 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. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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