By: Researcher Taymur
The thyroid in your endocrine system is an important organ. It releases hormones that power many of the body’s functions. The thyroid gland is near to the neck base, just below the apple of Adam. Small nodules, or lumps, often appear on the thyroid. When this happens, a test called fine needle aspiration (FNA) or fine needle biopsy may be ordered by the doctor to obtain tissue samples for analysis from the thyroid.
Your doctor may order this test if you have:
- Long-term persistent cough, heavy voice or unexplained sore throat
- nodules or lumps on your throat that you may feel or see
- lumps found by regular ultrasound
- a cyst or fluid-filled lump on your thyroid.
Your doctor will be able to see if the lump is cancerous or not by aspiring or obtaining tissue from the site. The nodule will end up being a tumor that is benign, or harmless, most of the time. Your doctor may perform fine needle aspiration to drain the cyst if you have a cyst instead of a nodule.
Fine needle aspiration is the only non-operative way to determine whether any lumps or nodules are benign or malignant.
While the test can be done in a hospital, in your doctor’s office you may have the procedure done. Before the procedure, you don’t need to have a special diet or avoid drinks or medicines. Make sure to tell the doctor if you are taking a blood-thinning drug. You may need to avoid taking it and other blood-thinning medications like aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Avoid wearing necklaces or other distracting accessories.
If you’re nervous or anxious about the procedure, talk to the doctor about your concerns. It’s important you can still lie for an extended period of time.
You may need to put on a robe before the operation begins.
The doctor will tell you to lie down when the treatment begins. As your doctor cleans your neck with iodine or another solution that kills any harmful germs on your skin, you will feel a cold sensation. Your doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the area in some cases, but it’s not always necessary.
A tiny needle will then be inserted into the nodule by the physician. While this happens, you shouldn’t speak, drink, or move. Your doctor will repeat this a couple of times to make sure they have a sufficiently large sample for analysis.
Usually the procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Your doctor will place some gauze over the area after the procedure and apply pressure to stop the bleeding for several minutes. Within a day or two, you can see a small bruise on the area.
Your doctor can advise you not to take any 24 to 48 hours of aspirin-containing or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
The thyroid’s fine needle aspiration is usually safe. There are some threats, however, such as:
You may feel normal swelling, bleeding, or moderate pain. When you develop a fever or tend to have swelling or more severe pain, call your doctor.
Your doctor will send your sample of tissue for analysis to a laboratory. Usually the results will be available within a week. The returning results will fall into one of four categories:
- 1st is benign (not harmful)
- 2nd is suspicious (may be cancerous)
- 3rd is malignant (cancerous)
- 4th is indeterminate (unable to tell from the sample)
Your doctor will speak to you about the tests and decide the next steps to be taken. If you have findings that are questionable, malignant or ineffective, you may need additional procedures.
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