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Thyroid Biopsy

What To Think About

  • A normal (negative) report on a thyroid biopsy does not mean for sure that the thyroid gland is healthy. It is possible that a problem may have been missed. Many thyroid tumors are small, and the biopsy sample may come from an area of the thyroid that is free from disease. A fine-needle biopsy can have a false-negative result.
  • Your doctor may not be able to use a needle biopsy to find out what is causing your symptoms. An open thyroid biopsy may be needed.
  • If a thyroid nodule is found and thyroid hormone levels are normal, most doctors recommend a thyroid needle biopsy instead of a radioactive thyroid scan. For more information, see the topics Thyroid Scan and Radioactive Iodine Uptake Test.
  • If a thyroid nodule is found and high thyroid levels are present, a radioactive iodine uptake (RAIU) test and a thyroid scan are generally recommended before a thyroid biopsy. Nodules that cause hyperthyroidism are generally noncancerous (benign) and can be treated with medicine or radioactive iodine. For more information, see the topic Radioactive Iodine Uptake Test.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMatthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology
Last RevisedMay 31, 2011
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 31, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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