Thyroid Ultrasound: Purpose, Procedure and Benefits

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If your doctor has suggested a thyroid ultrasound then you probably have lots of questions about it. Read on to learn why we might perform a thyroid scan, what the ultrasound procedure will involve, and the reasons why having this test could be a good idea.

Purpose of a Thyroid Ultrasound

What is the Purpose of a Thyroid Ultrasound?

Thyroid ultrasounds are used to investigate potential issues with your thyroid gland. The thyroid is small gland in your neck that produces hormones. We can use the scan to take a close look at your thyroid so that we can detect any abnormalities. The scan can help us to identify any growths such as cysts or tumours that could be responsible for your symptoms or impaired thyroid function. We’ll be able to tell what kind of growth it is using ultrasound.

How is a Thyroid Ultrasound Performed?

Thyroid scans are performed in the same was as any other kind of ultrasound. You may be familiar with ultrasound scans from pregnancy pictures, but the procedure can also be used to look at other parts of your body. Ultrasound waves are very high-pitched soundwaves that we can send into your body. When these soundwaves encounter different types of tissue, some of them are bounced back. The ultrasound machine collects these echoes and turns them into pictures.

When you have a thyroid ultrasound:

  • You’ll be asked to remove any clothing or jewellery from around your neck
  • Some lubricating gel will be placed on your skin to help the ultrasound probe to make better contact
  • A handheld ultrasound probe will be passed over your neck and you may feel some pressure as we move it to take pictures from different angles
  • Pictures of your thyroid gland will appear on the ultrasound screen

The results of your scan will be analysed, and we’ll explain them to you in detail.

What Are the Benefits of a Thyroid Ultrasound?

The thyroid ultrasound allows us to look inside your body so that we can see exactly what’s going on. We can use it to diagnose the cause of thyroid problems so that you can get the right treatment.

The benefits of thyroid ultrasounds are:

  • It is a completely safe and non-invasive test with no risk of side effects
  • Allows lumps such as cysts, nodules and tumours to be identified – the scan can reveal their precise location, whether they’re solid or fluid-filled, if there are distinct boundaries and whether the growth has its own blood supply, all of which can help with diagnosis and your treatment plan
  • Ensures you get the right treatment, which is especially important if there’s a risk of thyroid cancer

However, thyroid ultrasounds aren’t right for everyone. You will usually only need one if you’re experiencing symptoms linked to your thyroid gland, your doctor has felt a lump in your thyroid, or other tests (such as blood tests) have identified a thyroid problem. It’s important to discuss the options with your doctor so that you can get personalised advice on whether the scan is right for you.