What is a fine needle aspiration biopsy of a thyroid nodule?

If you feel a thyroid nodule, your doctor will initially start the evaluation by a physical exam and laboratory tests to check if your thyroid function is normal. The next step is usually a thyroid ultrasound. Thyroid ultrasound can give us significant information on the nature of thyroid nodules, but frequently a biopsy of the thyroid cells is necessary.

This can often be done in the doctor’s office with a very small needle. It does not require any special preparation and you can return to work and regular activity the same day. Your doctor may use the ultrasound machine and a very thin needle to withdraw cells from the nodule. Usually 3-6 samples must be taken to give the best chance of finding normal or abnormal cells.

These cells are reviewed under the microscope by a pathologist and your doctor will then review the results with you.

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A fine needle aspiration biopsy of a thyroid nodule is a simple procedure usually done with the help of ultrasound. A small needle is used to collect tissue from a thyroid nodule for evaluation of possible cancer.

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