You may have recently noticed a small bump called a nodule on your thyroid gland and brought this to your doctor’s attention. Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid, a small gland located at the base of your neck, just above your breastbone.
The great majority of thyroid nodules aren’t serious and don’t cause symptoms, but a small percentage can be cancerous. Your doctor may recommend a diagnostic radiology procedure called a thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsy to test a sample of the nodule and ensure it is benign. Below, we will discuss what a thyroid FNA is, how it works, and what you need to expect before, during, and after your procedure.
A thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsy is a procedure that involves collecting a small sample of tissue from your thyroid gland. Cells are removed through a small needle, often during an ultrasound. The sample is then sent to the lab for analysis.
Who needs a thyroid FNA?
Not everyone who has a thyroid nodule needs a thyroid FNA. Your doctor may perform imaging of your neck first that can oftentimes provide enough information to rule out cancer. Blood tests may also be performed before a thyroid FNA. If your doctor can’t rule out cancer with another test, he or she will likely recommend a thyroid FNA.
Results of a Thyroid FNA
There are a few different results you can receive after your thyroid FNA. Here are the four most common.
- Non-diagnostic: A non-diagnostic biopsy result means that there were not enough cells for your doctor make a definitive diagnosis. In this case another biopsy will likely be necessary.
- Benign: A benign result means that there is no evidence of cancer and benign results are usually over 95% accurate. Most patients with a benign result will not need surgery, unless the nodule is large and causing other issues.
- Malignant/Cancer: This result refers to when the biopsy demonstrates definitive evidence of cancer. Most thyroid cancers will be treated with surgery and sometimes the removal of lymph nodes in the neck.
- Indeterminate: There are some types of tumors that are considered indeterminate, meaning they are abnormal growths that can be either benign or cancerous. An indeterminate result means that the cells do not look normal, but that in order to make a diagnosis of cancer the whole nodule has to be examined further, usually involving the removal of all of the thyroid.
Thyroid FNA is a relatively simple outpatient procedure with little to no risk associated with it. Before your test, be sure to talk to your doctor or radiologist to voice any questions or concerns you might have. And if you’re looking to schedule a thyroid FNA in Manhattan, call the radiology specialists at Rosetta Radiology today!