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A thyroid ultrasound is an imaging method used to see the thyroid -- a gland in the neck that regulates metabolism.
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.
You will lie with your neck extended beyond its usual limit (hyperextended). The ultrasound technician will place a gel onto your neck. Next, the technician will move a wand, called a transducer, over the area.
The transducer gives off sound waves. The sound waves go through the body and bounce off the area being studied (in this case, the thyroid gland). A computer looks at the pattern that the sound waves create when bouncing back, and creates an image. This is similar to SONAR.
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. The exam can help tell the difference between a sac containing fluid (cyst) and abnormal tissue that may or may not be cancerous (a tumor).
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:
There are no documented risks of ultrasound.
Reviewed By: Ken Levin, MD, private practice specializing in Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Allentown, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.