Fine needle biopsy of the thyroid gland is performed to distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous (benign) nodules. Most thyroid nodules are benign and ultrasound is useful in confirming this. However, some nodules are indeterminate in their appearance and may require a biopsy.
For a biopsy, a patient lies on an ultrasound table with her head extended. Her skin is cleansed with an antiseptic and then numbed with local anesthesia. Using the ultrasound for guidance, the physician inserts a thin needle into the nodule several times to obtain a small amount of thyroid tissue. The tissue sample is then sent toa pathologist for evaluation under a microscope. When the procedure is complete, pressure is applied on the neck for several minutes to minimize bruising, and a bandage is placed on the skin. The procedure generally takes 10-15 minutes.
The biopsy results are usually available about one week later from the pathology lab, at which point we contact the patient.
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