December 20, 2022

Thyroid Ultrasound

What is the thyroid gland? 

Thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck. It releases hormones that control metabolism and regulate how the body uses energy. Thyroid hormones regulate vital body functions of which the most important are: 

  • breath
  • heart beats
  • the central and peripheral nervous system
  • body weight
  • muscle strength
  • menstruation
  • body temperature
  • cholesterol levels

What is a thyroid ultrasound? 

Thyroid ultrasound is a painless examination as ultrasounds are high-frequency sound waves. It is the imaging test of choice for diseases of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, while its usefulness in the evaluation of cervical lymph nodes and salivary glands is important. The examination is performed by a medical radiologist. 

When should the thyroid ultrasound be done? 

The reasons why the endocrinologist or pathologist ask for this examination are finding a swelling in the cervix or if there is a suspicion of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism due to the presentation of symptoms such as sweating, nervousness, large intake or weight loss, fatigue, exophthalmos . 

What does the examination of the thyroid gland with ultrasound show us? 

  • the dimensions of the thyroid gland
  • the homogeneity of the parenchyma
  • the presence of nodules

What diseases are diagnosed through thyroid ultrasound? 

Common conditions diagnosed with thyroid ultrasound are nodular goiter, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, neoplasia, etc. Adenomas of the parathyroid glands are also diagnosed with thyroid ultrasound. Cervical ultrasound checks for the presence of cervical lymph nodes and assesses their size and shape. Salivary glands (parotid, submandibular glands) are examined for inflammation, salivary stones or focal lesions. 

When should a thyroid ultrasound be done? 

The frequency is proportional to the patient’s own history as well as the family history, but as an examination it can be repeated without fear and without risk as many times as may be needed according to the instructions of the attending physician. 

What is the preparation for the exam and how long does it take? 

There is no special preparation for taking the exam. The duration of the examination is about  15 minutes. 

If someone has had thyroid blood tests and they are normal, should they also have a thyroid ultrasound? 

Even if the results of the hematological  tests of the thyroid are normal, a thyroid ultrasound should always be done as in the ultrasound we see completely different findings compared to what the blood tests can show us. The reverse is also clearly true, i.e. if someone has had a thyroid ultrasound and it is normal, it does not mean that they should not have blood tests as well. Therefore, the two types of exams are complementary, i.e. they do not replace each other.