In today's St. Vincent Corner Clinic Report, we discuss thyroid abnormalities and a test that allows doctors to determine if something may be wrong. Dr. Daryl Burrows has more on when a thyroid ultrasound may be necessary in this Q & A.
Most of the time, thyroid nodules are found incidentally on other imaging studies that are done maybe for neck pain or headaches.
Physicians will palpate a nodule on the thyroid and need to clarify, that is done to determine how big it is.
There are rare circumstances when children are exposed to radiation at a young age and they would need a screening ultrasound to make sure there is not any thyroid cancer.
What is a nodule?
A thyroid nodule is just a simple term for any abnormal growth in the thyroid. I tend to simplify things for the patients and tell them that they are kind of like moles of the thyroid. They're just abnormalities there. They could be benign or malignant. Very few of them are actually cancerous.
It's not really recommended that you do a self check, but if you do feel something there, it's not a bad idea to bring it to the attention of your doctor.
Suppose you have hypo or hyperthyroidism, is it necessary at that time to have an ultrasound done?
Not everybody with hypothyroidism needs to get an ultrasound. If they have an enlarged thyroid, it's a good idea to get one.
Now hyperthyroidism, it depends usually on other circumstances. Many times we do do them in the clinic if they are hyperthyroid. It clarifies what ideologies may be responsible for the hyperthyroidism. So, it's a very case by case basis.
And keep in mind, most thyroid nodules are benign. If it does happen to be cancer, thyroid cancer is highly treatable.