biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of
tissue is removed from the
thyroid gland and looked at under a microscope for
cancer, infection, or other thyroid problems. The
thyroid gland is found in front of the windpipe (trachea), just below the voice
A sample of thyroid tissue can be taken by:
- Fine-needle biopsy. Your doctor puts a thin
needle through the skin and into the thyroid gland. Many thyroid specialists
like to use a needle biopsy method rather than surgery.
biopsy. Your doctor makes a cut (incision) through the skin to see the thyroid
gland. This method is done when other tests have not found the cause of your
Why It Is Done
A thyroid biopsy is done to:
- Find the cause of a lump (nodule) found in the
thyroid gland. Lumps in the thyroid gland may be found during a physical
examination or seen on a thyroid
ultrasound test or radioactive thyroid
- Find the cause of a
goiter. Symptoms of a goiter include breathing and
swallowing problems, paralyzed vocal cords, a feeling of fullness in the neck,
and weight loss.
How To Prepare
Tell your doctor if you:
- Take any medicines regularly. Be sure your
doctor knows the names and doses of all your medicines.
- Are allergic to any medicines, including
- Have had bleeding problems or
take blood-thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin, for example).
Before having a thyroid biopsy, you may need to have blood
tests to see whether you have any bleeding problems or blood-clotting
To prepare for a thyroid biopsy:
- You do not need to do anything before a needle
biopsy. You will be
awake during the biopsy.
- Do not eat or drink anything for 10 hours
before an open biopsy. You will get
general anesthesia and be asleep during the biopsy. If
you take medicines every day, ask your doctor whether you can take these
medicines on the day of the biopsy. You can eat your normal diet after the
Just before the test, you will remove your dentures (if you
wear them) and all jewelry or metal objects from around your neck and upper
Before having a thyroid biopsy, you need to sign a consent
form that says you understand the risks of the thyroid biopsy and agree to have
the test done. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the
need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will
mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
A needle biopsy is done in a
hospital, clinic, or your doctor's office. During the test, you will lie on
your back with a pillow under your shoulders, your head tipped backward, and
your neck extended. This position pushes the thyroid gland forward, making it
easier to do the biopsy. It is important to lie very still during the biopsy.
Do not cough, talk, or swallow when the needle is in place. A needle biopsy takes
about 5 to 10 minutes.