A thyroid 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
- Core needle biopsy. Your doctor inserts a needle with a special tip and removes a sample of tissue about the size of a grain of rice.
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
exam 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, 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.
- You will get
general anesthesia and be asleep during an open biopsy. Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure
may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take
them with only a sip of water.