Understanding the Science of Ultrasound-Guided Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy 

Portrait of beautiful lady in white bathrobe having ultrasound scanning of thyroidUltrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of the thyroid is a minimally invasive procedure that is designed to collect samples of tissue from the thyroid nodule or other areas of thyroid lesion. In simpler terms, the procedure aims to take a closer look at any abnormalities within this area of the body. 

The procedure is not nearly as frightening as its name may suggest. The procedure is less invasive than a surgical biopsy, meaning it leaves little scarring (if any) and it does not require exposure to radiation, such as x-rays. 

Our caring radiologist, Dr. Sarmiento, is the one who will do the procedure. You can rest easy knowing one of the western hemisphere’s most prestigious surgeons will be taking care of your FNA!

So, what exactly happens during the procedure? The experts at Professional Radiology are here to provide you with all the information you need to know regarding ultrasound-guided FNA. 

Understanding Thyroid Disease 

Before we can discuss how exactly an FNA of the thyroid works, we must begin by touching on conditions that can form within the thyroid. Thyroid disease occurs when the gland fails to function properly, which can be caused by releasing too much or too little of the T4 hormone. T4 stands for thyroxine. Once released, T4 is converted into another hormone known as T3. These hormones are responsible for flowing through the bloodstream and maintaining your metabolism. 

The three main thyroid conditions consist of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroid cancer. Hypothyroidism occurs when too little of the T4 hormone is being produced, whereas hyperthyroidism occurs when too much of the hormone is being produced. 

What happens during the procedure?

FNAs are relatively straightforward procedures. Medicine may or may not be used to numb the area prior to the insertion of the needle. An ultrasound transducer with a small amount of gel is placed over the neck precisely where the thyroid nodule is. With the help of the imaging guidance, our radiologist will proceed by inserting the needle into the skin to reach the thyroid nodule. From there, samples of the nodule will be taken. After samples are gathered, the needle is then removed. New needles may be inserted if additional samples are deemed necessary. Several samples are sometimes needed in order to conduct a complete analysis and understanding of the state of the thyroid. 

How does ultrasound-guided FNA diagnose thyroid disease? 

Patients may experience reoccurring symptoms when a condition may form in the thyroid, such as fatigue, changes in the skin, a lump in the neck, or hoarseness or pain in the thyroid area. From here, we will conduct blood tests and a physical exam to evaluate if the thyroid is enlarged or abnormal. If the blood tests do find abnormal activity within the thyroid, then an ultrasound-guided FNA will be required. The samples of tissue that are gathered during an ultrasound-guided FNA examines if there is cancer in the thyroid. Samples are analyzed and examined with a microscope after being extracted from the thyroid. 

What can an ultrasound-guided FNA do for me?

The benefits drawn from an ultrasound-guided FNA are vast. The results drawn from the biopsy of the thyroid are 95% accurate, meaning they are reliable when detecting any preexisting conditions. Additionally, it is the best way of gathering tissue to help diagnose whether the nodule is benign or cancerous. Furthermore, as we previously mentioned, the biopsy does not require an incision. It is much less invasive than open and closed surgical biopsies. Overall, the procedure is not painful and recovery time is minimal for patients. Patients can resume their usual activities and trust the results that come from the procedure.

What can I expect to experience during and after the procedure?

During the procedure, you will be required to lie on your back with a cushion under the shoulders in order to keep your head tipped backward and the neck extended outward. This position makes it easier for the radiologist to gather tissue from the gland. You may feel some pressure may once the needle enters the gland. You will also be offered a numbing agent during the procedure. 

Patients will be asked to remain as still as possible to prevent any complications. Coughing, talking, or swallowing cannot be done while the needle is in the gland. Aftercare instructions are minimal and, oftentimes, patients can resume their activities as soon as the procedure is complete. The site of the incisions may be sore or tender for a few days. You may take over-the-counter pain medicine to treat any discomfort. 

Choose The Professionals at Professional Radiology, Today 

You can rest assured in the diagnostic imaging services provided by Professional Radiology. Our imaging center can not only provide you with timely results but our professionals are also here to help you create a plan for medical care should there be any abnormalities. Contact us to learn more about our services and exclusivity as El Paso’s foremost, physician-owned radiology clinic. 


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