A thyroid ultrasound is an imaging method to see the thyroid, a gland in the neck that regulates metabolism (the many processes that control the rate of activity in cells and tissues).
Ultrasound - thyroid; Thyroid sonogram; Thyroid echogram; Thyroid nodule - ultrasound; Goiter - ultrasound
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 often done in the ultrasound or radiology department. It also can be done in a clinic.
The test is done in this way:
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 physical exam shows any of these findings:
Ultrasound is also often used to guide the needle in biopsies of:
A normal result will show that the thyroid has a normal size, shape, and position.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal results may be due to:
Your health care provider can use these results and the results of other tests to direct your care.
There are no documented risks for ultrasound.
Blum M. Thyroid imaging. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 79.
Salvatore D, Davies TF, Schlumberger M-J, Hay ID, Larsen PR. Thyroid physiology and diagnostic evaluation of patients with thyroid disorders. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 11.
Review Date: 2/22/2018
Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, board certified in Metabolism/Endocrinology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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