The diagnostic of a thyroid nodule
Once there is a suspicion of thyroid nodules, 5 different tests can be realized to confirm the diagnosis.
First, a physical exam: the doctor will ask you to do exercise to swallow, it will permit the thyroid gland to moves up and down. The doctor will also interrogate you about hyperthyroidism symptoms as rapid heartbeat, facial swelling, dry skin…
Another test is the thyroid function test. These are blood tests that calculate the level of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, produced by the thyroid gland.
It is also important to check the level of the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), this hormone is responsible for the level or thyroxine, too much thyroxine indicates hyperthyroidism while too little means hypothyroidism.
Another test is ultrasonography, this is an imaging technique that uses high frequency sound waves to produce images that determine the structure of the nodule.
To make sure that the nodule is benign and not malignant, a Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy is often performed. The procedure only lasts 20 minutes and the samples are sent to a laboratory for analysis.
A thyroid scan is another test that may be recommended by the doctor. During the exam, a radioactive isotope of iodine is injected in your body. Thanks to the iodine a special camera could produce images of the thyroid on a computer screen. Only the nodules that deliver an excess of thyroid hormones are detected on the thyroid scan.