Ultrasound-guided Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy of Thyroid (biopsy needle bracketsUltrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy of the Thyroid
An ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy uses sound waves to help locate a nodule or abnormality within the thyroid and remove a tissue sample for examination under a microscope. The procedure is less invasive than surgical biopsy, leaves little to no scarring.
This procedure requires little to no special preparation. Tell your doctor about any medications you're taking, such as aspirin or blood thinners.
What is Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy of the Thyroid?
During a fine needle aspiration biopsy of the thyroid, a small sample of tissue is removed from the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located in front of the neck just above the neckline and is shaped like a butterfly, with two lobes on either side of the neck connected by a narrow band of tissue.
Nodules or abnormalities in the body are often detected by imaging examinations. However, it is not always possible to tell from these imaging tests whether a nodule is benign (non-cancerous) or cancerous.
A needle biopsy, also called a needle aspiration, involves removing some cells—in a less invasive procedure involving a hollow needle—from a suspicious area within the body and examining them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis.
What are some common uses of the procedure?
Thyroid biopsy is used to find the cause of a nodule in the thyroid gland.
When a nodule is detected, imaging tests may be performed to help determine if it is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If imaging studies cannot clearly define the abnormality, a biopsy may be necessary.
What does the equipment look like?
The needle used is a thin, fine-gauge needle that is smaller in diameter than the needle used in most blood draws (usually a 25 or 27 gauge 1.5 inch needle). The aspiration may be done with a needle or with a needle that is attached to a syringe. The syringe may be in a plastic or metal holder to make it easier for the doctor to aspirate the cells.
A high-frequency linear array ultrasound transducer (or probe) mounted with biopsy needle guide (or biopsy needle bracket or adapter, etc) is used to guide accurate placement of the needle within the thyroid nodule.
The technologist applies a small amount of ultrasound gel to the area under examination and places the transducer there. The gel allows sound waves to travel back and forth between the transducer and the area under examination. The ultrasound image is immediately visible on a video display screen.
How does the procedure work?
The physician inserts a fine gauge needle through the skin and advances it into the thyroid nodule. Samples of the cells are then obtained and put on a slide for review by the pathologist.
Image-guided, minimally invasive procedures such as fine needle aspiration of the thyroid are most often performed by a specially trained radiologist with experience in needle aspiration and ultrasound.
The neck will be cleansed with antiseptic. Medicine to numb the area may or may not be used. An ultrasound transducer with a small amount of ultrasound gel will be placed on your neck over the thyroid nodule. The radiologist will insert the needle through the skin under direct imaging guidance, advance it to the site of the thyroid nodule and aspirate samples of tissue. After the sampling, the needle will be removed. New needles will be reinserted if additional samples are required. Several specimens may be needed for a complete analysis.
Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to the area to decrease the risk of bleeding. A bandage may be placed if necessary. No sutures are needed.
This procedure is usually completed in less than 30 minutes.
What are the benefits vs. risks?
- The results of needle biopsy of the thyroid are close to 95% accurate for adequate biopsies.
- Needle biopsy is a reliable method of obtaining tissue samples that can help diagnose whether a nodule is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant.
- A needle biopsy is less invasive than open and closed surgical biopsies, both of which involve a larger incision in the skin and local or general anesthesia.
- Generally, the procedure is not painful and the results are as accurate as when a tissue sample is removed surgically.
- Recovery time is brief and patients can soon resume their usual activities.
- Bleeding at the site of biopsy.
- Injury to structures adjacent to the thyroid.
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