Thyroid Aspiration

What is a Thyroid Fine Needle Aspiration?

A thyroid fine needle aspiration is a procedure in which a very small sample of thyroid tissue is removed. This involves the insertion of a small needle to the front, lower portion of the neck and is done with ultrasound guidance. The procedure is performed to obtain microscopic samples of thyroid tissue in specific regions of the thyroid gland to be analyzed by the pathologist.

How do I prepare for the exam?

You will be instructed, prior to the exam date, to stop taking any blood thinning products (such as Aspirin, Ibuprofens, Heparin or Cumadin) three days prior to the exam. This is to avoid any excessive bruising that may occur with any type of needle puncture. No extra arrangements (such as a person to drive you to and from the appointment) are required for this exam.

What will happen during the exam?

The sonographer will bring you to the exam room and ask some basic pre-exam questions. You will be required to lie down on an exam stretcher and a small cushion or rolled towel will be positioned behind the neck and shoulder region to better extend and expose the lower neck region. Warmed gel (water-based to not stain clothing) will be applied to the neck region. This is needed to maximize the contact between the skin and the ultrasound transducer on your skin and evaluate the thyroid gland. When this portion of the exam is done, the sonographer will wipe off the gel.

Next, the physician will cleanse the area of interest on the neck and place a sterile drape over the area. You will be given a small local anesthesia (Lidocaine or Novacaine) at the site on the neck. The radiologist will do multiple passes through the thyroid with the needle and hand off the samples to a technician from cytology.

After the exam is complete, the area is again cleansed and a Band-Aid is placed of the injection area. An ice pack will be given for you to apply to your neck to help keep the swelling down.

How long will the procedure take?

The fine needle aspiration portion of the exam will take just about 15 minutes. But, added to the set-up time, pre-scanning and explanation, the total time of the entire exam will be about one hour.

How will I receive my results?

The results are usually available in 7-10 days. Your doctor's office will notify you of the results as soon as they are available.

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