Ultrasound uses sound, not x-rays, to produce images. A probe placed on the surface of the body sends a thin, high-frequency sound beam (above the range that humans can hear) into the body. The sound bounces off of structures within the body and back to the probe. A computer is able to construct images based on the time required for these echoes to return. Ultrasound of the thyroid takes about 15 - 30 minutes.
Common Reasons for a Thyroid ultrasound
Some of the more common reasons why your doctor would order a thyroid ultrasound include:
- Fullness or lump
- Difficulty swallowing
- Abnormal blood tests
- Family history of thyroid disease
Who should not have an ultrasound of the thyroid?
Ultrasound is an extremely safe procedure and there are very few conditions that would prevent it from being performed. Since a probe must be placed in contact with the skin, ultrasound may not be possible in those with open sores or large open wounds over the area of interest.
How do I prepare for the test?
There is no preparation required for a thyroid ultrasound. If you wear a low neck or button up shirt or blouse, changing into a gown will not be necessary.
Who performs the examination?
An ultrasound technologist (a person trained to take ultrasound images) performs the examination.
What happens during the examination?
After registering with the receptionist, you may be asked to change into a gown, removing your shirt or blouse. You will be taken to the examination room, which contains an ultrasound machine and an examination table. You will be asked to lie on your back. Your chin must be raised from the throat area. The technologist will apply gel to your skin to improve contact with the probe. The technologist will move the probe to various positions from your collar bone to your jawbone, both right and left sides, taking ultrasound pictures. The technologist will ask you not to talk and avoid swallowing to decrease motion of the thyroid.
What can I expect after the examination?
Ultrasound of thyroid has no after-effects and you should be able to return to activities of daily living.
What are the risks of the procedure?
Ultrasound is an extremely safe procedure that does not expose the body to x-rays. Ultrasound transmits very small quantities of sound energy into the body but this produces no known harmful effects when standard techniques are used.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
The results are interpreted by one of our radiologists (a doctor who is trained to interpret x-rays and other medical images) and the results are sent to the doctor who ordered the ultrasound by courier or fax.
Arrangements to discuss the results of the ultrasound can be made with the doctor who ordered it.