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How Long Does A Thyroid Ultrasound Take

What Surgery May Be Indicated For Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

What its like to get a Thyroid Ultrasound Exam

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is very rarely treated with surgery. As stated above, only the earliest stage of anaplastic thyroid cancer should even be considered for surgery. Any evidence of distant spread of anaplastic thyroid cancer makes anaplastic thyroid cancer a non-surgical disease. It is important to understand that the only chance of cure is to have a very expert thyroid cancer surgeon from the beginning. Only the most highly experienced thyroid cancer surgeons will have ever operated on an anaplastic thyroid cancer patient and even fewer will have ever cured an anaplastic thyroid cancer patient. There is no question, the occasional surgeon should not operate on an anaplastic thyroid cancer patient or even a patient with a presumed diagnosis of poorly differentiated thyroid cancer. There is no second chance or opportunity in anaplastic thyroid cancer surgery. Surgery for anaplastic thyroid cancer is filled with a number of choices. Some of these choices in anaplastic thyroid cancer surgery can be made prior to surgery but others may depend upon the thyroid cancer surgery experts experience and thoughts during the actual surgical procedure. The anaplastic thyroid cancer patient will usually require a total thyroidectomy or subtotal thyroidectomy in most circumstances. Frequently anaplastic thyroid surgery may be a complicated thyroidectomy.

What Happens During The Procedure

Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to create an image of the thyroid, any lumps and/or nodules. It is the same technology used to perform antenatal scans during pregnancy. You will not be exposed to any radiation during the process.

It is important to remember that the doctors carrying out your ultrasound are there to answer any questions you might have at any time and to ensure you remain as comfortable as possible. If you have any questions, this is the time to ask them.

You may be required to wear a hospital gown for the ultrasound scan.

Once in the treatment room, you will be asked to lie on a bed with a pillow to support your shoulders. You will be asked to tilt your neck backwards to allow the best access to the area. A cool lubricant gel may be applied to the surface of the skin to assist the movement of the probe. The ultrasound probe will make contact with the skin and be moved around the neck. This will form images on the monitor allowing the sonographer or radiologist to assess and measure what the ultrasound has enabled them to see. Usually, these images will then be passed to your specialist before the results are discussed with you.

How Is The Procedure Performed

For most ultrasound exams, you will lie face-up on an exam table that can be tilted or moved. Patients may be turned to either side to improve the quality of the images.

A pillow may be placed behind the shoulders to extend the area to be scanned for a thyroid ultrasound exam. This is especially important for a small child with very little space between the chin and the chest.

After you are positioned on the examination table, the radiologist or sonographer will apply a warm water-based gel to the area of the body being studied. The gel will help the transducer make secure contact with the body and eliminate air pockets between the transducer and the skin that can block the sound waves from passing into your body. The transducer is placed on the body and moved back and forth over the area of interest until the desired images are captured.

There is usually no discomfort from pressure as the transducer is pressed against the area being examined. However, if scanning is performed over an area of tenderness, you may feel pressure or minor pain from the transducer.

Once the imaging is complete, the clear ultrasound gel will be wiped off your skin. Any portions that are not wiped off will dry quickly. The ultrasound gel does not usually stain or discolor clothing.

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Total Thyroidectomy With Central Neck Dissection

A central neck dissection is when the lymph nodes closest to your thyroid in the central part of your neck are removed during your thyroidectomy.

This is done whenever abnormal lymph nodes are identified on ultrasound before surgery. Sometimes, for patients with larger and/or more extensive papillary thyroid cancer and for all medullary thyroid cancer, this lymph node surgery will be done prophylactically.

Thyroid Nodules: When To Worry

AI boosts ultrasound for thyroid cancer screening

Suppose you go to your doctor for a check-up, and, as shes feeling your neck, she notices a bump. Then, suppose she tells you theres a nodule on your thyroid. Is it time to panic?

No, say experts at Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. Thyroid nodules even the occasional cancerous ones are treatable.

Heres what you need to know about thyroid nodules and how concerned you should be if you develop one.

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What Will A Biopsy Tell Me

Sometimes, a nodule or goiter just sits there and isnât dangerous.

When they do cause problems, it could be something like:

Cysts, fluid-filled nodules that can give you neck pain or make it hard to swallow. Theyâre very rarely cancer but still might need treatment.

Gravesâ disease, which causes your thyroid to grow and make too many hormones.

Hashimotoâs disease, where your thyroid is damaged by your immune system, so it makes fewer hormones than normal and then swells.

Infection, where a virus causes pain and swelling in your thyroid.

Large nodules or goiters that are an issue because of their size. They can push into surrounding body parts and make it harder to breathe or swallow.

Toxic nodules or goiters, which are almost never cancer, can cause your thyroid to pump out too many hormones.

Cancer, which makes up about 10% of cases.

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What Happens During A Thyroid Fna

An ultrasound machine will be used to locate the nodule or nodules to be sampled and show images or pictures of the nodule or nodules onto a screen.

The ultrasound will be carried out by a technologist or a radiologist , or both.

The FNA procedure will then be explained to you. Instructions about what you can and cannot do after the procedure will be given to you at this time as well. You will be asked to sign a form indicating that you understand what will happen, the small risks involved, and that you agree to have the procedure done. The explanation will generally be provided by the doctor carrying out the procedure. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions at this time.

You will generally be lying on an examination couch for the procedure.

Your neck will be washed with antiseptic.

The procedure is then over. The needle puncture site in your neck will be compressed for a couple of minutes by the doctor who did the FNA or a nurse who assists the doctor. An ice pack may be put on your neck to help reduce swelling and bleeding. You may be taken from the ultrasound room into an observation area for a short time to ensure that you are well enough to go home.

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Imaging Tests For A Diagnosis Of Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Imaging tests may be done for a number of reasons, including to help find suspicious areas that might be cancer, to learn how far cancer may have spread, and to help determine the extent of surgery and the role of other treatments or therapies.

People who have or may have a diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer will get one or more of the following tests:


For thyroid nodules, ultrasound is used to guide a biopsy needle into the thyroid nodule to obtain a confident sampling of the cells within it.

Expert ultrasound can also help confirm a diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer which has spread to the lymph nodes of the neck. The expert ultrasonographer will look for multiple changes. Although many unskilled observers would believe that size is a major issue, but it actually is not. High resolution ultrasound can detect a diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer spread to lymph nodes as small as 1-2 mm . When looking at the lymph nodes in the neck with ultrasound, the following are important criteria which may lead to a FNA needle biopsy to confirm disease.

  • The quality of the ultrasound machine
  • The device that is held in the hand of the technician producing the sound waves
  • The experience and the skill of the ultrasound technician
  • The experience of the radiologist or diagnostician who is interpreting the study.
    1. The first biopsy did not provide a diagnosis 2. The ultrasound shows something that was previously not seen.

Magnetic resonance imaging scan

Blood Tests

Diagnosis Of Papillary Thyroid Cancer

How to perform Thyroid Ultrasound.
  • There are approximately 64,000 new thyroid cancers diagnosed in the United States annually
  • The diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer accounts for approximately 85% of all thyroid cancers
  • The diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer is most common in women between the ages of 30 to 50
  • The diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer may occur at any age including infants, children and later years of life
  • The diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer effects women three times more frequently than it does men
  • The diagnosis of papillary thyroid cancer is the fifth most common cancer affecting women in the United States

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When Would I Need A Biopsy

A biopsy helps your doctor find the cause of a nodule or goiter. But you donât need it for all thyroid problems. For example, your symptoms, blood tests, and imaging will be enough to tell if you have Gravesâ disease.

Your doctor will likely want to check on any nodule bigger than about 1 centimeter , especially if imaging shows that the nodule is solid, has calcium on it, and doesnât have clear borders around it.

You might also get a biopsy without a nodule if youâre in a lot of pain and your thyroid is growing quickly.

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How Common Are Thyroid Nodules

Thyroid nodules are very common, especially in the U.S. In fact, experts estimate that about half of Americans will have one by the time theyre 60 years old. Some are solid, and some are fluid-filled cysts. Others are mixed.

Because many thyroid nodules dont have symptoms, people may not even know theyre there. In other cases, the nodules can get big enough to cause problems. But even larger thyroid nodules are treatable, sometimes even without surgery.

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Diagnosis Of Papillary Thyroid Cancer: What If The Diagnosis Is Not Clear

Sometimes FNA results come back as âatypical cells of undetermined significanceâ . This occurs when FNA findings donât show for sure if the nodule is either benign or malignant. If this happens, the doctor may order tests on the sample to see if there are genetic abnormalities noted . There are several commercially available tests that doctors can send the samples to determine the risk of the cells being cancerous. Before you consider one of these test, you should ask yourself âwhat information do I seek?â and âHow will this information change my approach to my thyroid mass?â

For example, if you have a small thyroid nodule that is less than 1.5 cm and the FNA is atypical cell of undetermined significance and you prefer to monitor the nodule with ultrasound, then all of these tests may lead you to a surgery that you are already not desiring to pursue.

From an opposite standpoint, if you are above 5o years of age and have a 4cm thyroid nodule that has abnormal vascularity and on FNA is ACUS as well, then surgical excision would be recommended for multiple reasons including ultrasound appearance, size, and age. Genetic testing would only be beneficial in this circumstance if the surgeon and patient would propose a total thyroidectomy based upon this additional information. Importantly, before you proceed with a genetic test, make sure that this information is important to determining what your next step should or should not be.

Are There Any Risks Or Side Effects

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There are no known risks from the sound waves used in an ultrasound scan. Unlike some other scans, such as CT scans, ultrasound scans don’t involve exposure to radiation.

External and internal ultrasound scans don’t have any side effects and are generally painless, although you may experience some discomfort as the probe is pressed over your skin or inserted into your body.

If you’re having an internal scan and are allergic to latex, it’s important to let the sonographer or doctor carrying out the scan know this so they can use a latex-free probe cover.

Endoscopic ultrasounds can be a bit more uncomfortable and can cause temporary side effects, such as a sore throat or bloating.

There’s also a small risk of more serious complications, such as internal bleeding.

Page last reviewed: 28 July 2021 Next review due: 28 July 2024

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Lab Tests Of Biopsy Samples

In some cases, doctors might use molecular tests to look for specific gene changes in the cancer cells. This might be done for different reasons:

  • If FNA biopsy results arent clear, the doctor might order lab tests on the samples to see if there are changes in the BRAF or RET/PTC genes. Finding one of these changes makes thyroid cancer much more likely.
  • For some types of thyroid cancer, molecular tests might be done to see if the cancer cells have changes in certain genes , which could mean that certain targeted drugs might be helpful in treating the cancer.

These tests can be done on tissue taken during a biopsy or surgery for thyroid cancer. If the biopsy sample is too small and all the molecular tests cant be done, the testing may also be done on blood that is taken from a vein, just like a regular blood draw.

Why Would A Thyroid Doctor Order An Ultrasound

  • Why you may need a thyroid ultrasound
  • How ultrasound works
  • How to prepare for an ultrasound
  • What your ultrasound results mean

If your thyroid health is in question, your doctor may order several tests to examine your thyroid function. Along with blood tests, such as TSH, T4, and T3, your doctor may order an ultrasound to look at the thyroid. The thyroid gland often undergoes anatomical changes when it is not functioning correctly. Ultrasounds are quick, painless, and often inexpensive studies that can reveal a lot of information about your thyroid gland.

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Conditions That May Require An Ultrasound

So why would your Doctor tell you that you need a thyroid ultrasound?

The vast majority of the time an ultrasound is ordered just to make sure that nothing is being missed and to cover all of the bases.

Don’t let the fact that your Doctor wants to get an ultrasound freak you out or cause anxiety.

Most of the time, your results will be “clean”.

Below you can find a list of the most common reasons that your Doctor is likely to order an ultrasound.

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: What About Lymph Nodes

Neck Ultrasonography: What Can You Really See and How Can It Help Your Practice?

We have lymph nodes all over our body that are made up of groups of infection-fighting and cancer fighting immune cells. We all have had “swollen glands” in our neck when we had a sore throat or tonsils. These same glands that get swollen when we have a neck infection can help fight cancer by preventing the cancer cells from spreading from the thyroid to the rest of the body. Anaplastic thyroid cancer certainly can spread into the lymph nodes of the neck. In fact, at least 90% of anaplastic thyroid cancers will have spread to neck lymph nodes on their initial presentation. Failure to recognize that your anaplastic thyroid cancer has spread to neck lymph nodes is one common cause of persistent anaplastic thyroid cancer. Failure to appreciate the invasive extent of the anaplastic thyroid cancer and remove all of the invasive disease is the other common and critical inadequate surgical management of this disease. These are common oversights of inexperienced thyroid cancer surgeons and has a major impact on the ability to control your anaplastic thyroid cancer. Make sure you have identified the most experienced thyroid cancer surgery expert if you are preparing for surgery of any type of poorly differentiated thyroid cancer. If you underwent surgery and have persistent disease, this may not be correctable but dont make the same decision again which brought you to your current circumstance.

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How Ultrasound Scans Work

A small device called an ultrasound probe is used, which gives off high-frequency sound waves.

You can’t hear these sound waves, but when they bounce off different parts of the body, they create “echoes” that are picked up by the probe and turned into a moving image.

This image is displayed on a monitor while the scan is carried out.

How Thyroid Ultrasound Works

Ultrasound imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. The sound waves reflect off the internal body structures, but at different strengths and speeds, depending on the nature of those structures. This information is compiled by a computer to produce the ultrasound images, which appear on a screen.

Ultrasound produces moving images in real-time, so clinicians can see features like the movement of organs and blood flow through vessels. Many people are most familiar with ultrasound from its use during pregnancy. But ultrasound imaging has become more frequent in many other areas of medicine as well, including in the diagnosis of thyroid disease.

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