Thyroid Biopsy

What is a Thyroid Biopsy / Fine Needle Aspiration procedure?

A Thyroid Biopsy, also referred to as Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA), is a minimally invasive procedure performed either in-office or as an outpatient procedure. It utilizes advanced imaging techniques such as ultrasound or sonogram guidance along with an extremely thin needle to extract a microscopic sample of thyroid tissue from within a nodule.


How do you prepare for the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)?

Preparation for an FNA is minimal, typically requiring no specific steps for most patients. However, individuals taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin may need to discontinue these medications temporarily to minimize the risk of bleeding and bruising.


Why is the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) performed?

The FNA procedure is conducted when a thyroid nodule exhibits certain characteristics, such as changes in size, calcification, or increased vascularity, prompting further investigation. Medical providers use a standardized scale called the TIRAD score to assess the risk factors associated with the nodule. Similar to evaluating skin moles or freckles, some nodules require sampling to rule out potential malignancies like cancer.


What can you expect during the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)?

Before the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA), patients typically consult with a physician assistant to address any questions or concerns regarding the FNA. Patients are then positioned comfortably on an examination table in a designated room equipped with an ultrasound machine. The doctor, assisted by medical staff, administers the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA), which may involve the application of a topical numbing spray for patient comfort. Due to the small needle size, discomfort is usually minimal and well-tolerated.


What is the follow-up and recovery like for the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)?

Following the FNA, patients may experience mild discomfort or soreness, typically lasting up to 24 hours. Over-the-counter acetaminophen or NSAID medications are often sufficient for pain management, and applying a cool compress or ice pack can help reduce inflammation. Most patients can resume their regular activities immediately after the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA).


What are the Potential Risks for the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)?

Common risks associated with the FNA procedure include minor pain and discomfort lasting about 24 hours post-procedure. Patients may also experience bruising, bleeding, or a slight risk of infection at the site of needle insertion.


Are there Related Procedures to the Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)?

The FNA procedure is the most common diagnostic tool for patients with thyroid disease. Additionally, patients may undergo regular thyroid ultrasounds, ranging from every three months to once a year, depending on the nodule’s risk factors and characteristics.


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