Ultrasound Fine Needle

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What is a thyroid nodule?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the middle of the neck, located below the larynx (voice box) and above the clavicles (collarbones). A normal thyroid gland cannot be seen or felt. A thyroid nodule is a round or oval-shaped lump (s) within the thyroid. Thyroid nodule(s) can cause a visible or palpable enlargement of the thyroid gland, called a ‘goitre’ (link to nodular goitre service page)

thyroid nodule
Thyroid nodules are round or oval lumps that develop on the thyroid gland.

What is an ultrasound-guided fine needle biopsy of thyroid nodules?

Ultrasound-guided fine needle biopsy (UG-FNB) of thyroid nodules is a diagnostic procedure used to evaluate and obtain tissue samples from suspicious or abnormal growths (nodules) in the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones essential for regulating metabolism. Thyroid nodules are common, and while most are benign, some may be cancerous or have the potential to become thyroid cancer (link to service page).

The purpose of UG-FNB is to collect a small tissue sample from the thyroid nodule for pathological analysis. This procedure helps determine the nature of the nodule, whether it is benign, malignant, or indeterminate. It is a minimally invasive technique that provides valuable information to guide further management and treatment decisions.

thyroid nodule diagnosis
Ultrasound-guide fine needle aspiration can determine if a thyroid nodule is cancerous or benign.

What are the benefits of ultrasound-guide fine needle biopsy of thyroid nodules?

Traditional biopsies may need help in accurately sampling small or hard-to-reach nodules. Ultrasound-guided fine needle biopsy overcomes these challenges by utilising real-time ultrasound guidance, ensuring the following benefits:

  • Precise: We understand the importance of precise diagnostic tools at ACE Specialist Surgery and Endoscopy. Ultrasound-guided fine needle biopsy allows us to target and sample thyroid nodules accurately.
  • Minimally invasive: allows for safe and accurate diagnosis and treatment without the need for open surgery.
  • Patient comfort and safety: ultrasound-guided fine needle biopsy is a well-tolerated procedure, often performed on an outpatient basis. Patients can experience minimal discomfort, and the risk of complications is low, making it a safe and patient-friendly option for thyroid nodule evaluation.
  • Swift results and treatment planning: one of the key advantages of ultrasound-guide fine needle biopsy is the quick turnaround time for results. Rapid pathology analysis enables our medical team to formulate an accurate diagnosis promptly and discuss potential treatment options with the patient.

In addition to these benefits, ACE Specialist Surgery and Endoscopy is dedicated to creating personalised treatment plans for all our patients. Whether the nodule requires close monitoring, medical management, or surgical intervention, our approach is tailored to each patient's unique needs and can be catered to at our one-stop service clinic.

What is the process for ultrasound-guided fine needle biopsy for thyroid nodules?

An ultrasound-guided aspiration and decompression of thyroid nodules typically involves the following steps: 

  1. Patient preparation: before the procedure, the patient may be asked to avoid blood-thinning medications, and our surgeon will inquire about any known allergies or medical conditions.
  2. Ultrasound imaging: the procedure begins with an ultrasound examination of the thyroid gland. Real-time ultrasound imaging allows the surgeon to visualise the thyroid nodule's size, location, and characteristics.
  3. Needle placement: with ultrasound imaging guidance, a thin and fine needle is precisely inserted through the skin into the thyroid nodule. The ultrasound helps ensure accurate placement of the needle within the nodule.
  4. Tissue sample collection: the needle is used to aspirate or withdraw a small amount of tissue from the thyroid nodule. Multiple samples may be taken from different areas of the nodule to increase the accuracy of the biopsy.
  5. Pathological analysis: the collected tissue samples are then sent to a pathology laboratory, where a pathologist examines them under a microscope. The analysis provides information on the cellular composition of the nodule, helping to determine whether it is benign, malignant, or indeterminate.
  6. Results and further action: results are discussed with the patient once the pathology report is available. Depending on the findings, further monitoring, medical management, or surgical intervention may be recommended.
Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration of thyroid nodules is typically an outpatient procedure

Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration is a safe and well-tolerated procedure with minimal risks. It is particularly useful for evaluating thyroid nodules that are not easily accessible through other means. The precision of ultrasound guidance enhances the accuracy of the biopsy, allowing for a more informed and timely diagnosis of thyroid conditions.

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Thyroid Screening 

Includes the following, done on the same day:

  • Clinical Assessment 
  • Thyroid examination inclusive of neck and thyroid ultrasound
  • Comprehensive Thyroid laboratory tests
  • Fine needle biopsy if suspicious thyroid nodules or neck masses are found or ultrasound-guided aspiration of any large benign cyst

At ACE Specialist Surgery and Endoscopy, we prioritise early detection, accurate diagnosis, and personalised treatment for thyroid conditions. Our multidisciplinary approach and compassionate care ensure our patients receive optimal care for their thyroid health. We are committed to improving the quality of life for individuals with thyroid disorders through our comprehensive thyroid screening and treatment services.

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Reyaz Moiz

Dr Reyaz Singaporewalla
Senior Consultant Endocrine and General Surgeon

MBBS (Bom), MS (Surg), DNB (Surg), FRCS (Edin), MMed (Singapore), FRCSEd.