Needle Biopsy: Thyroid
(Fine-Needle Aspiration: Thyroid; Skinny-Needle Biopsy: Thyroid; Coarse-Needle Biopsy: Thyroid; Core Needle Biopsy: Thyroid)
DefinitionA needle biopsy uses a needle to removal of a small piece of tissue or fluid for testing. In this case, the tissue is removed from the thyroid gland.
Reasons for ProcedureA thyroid biopsy is usually done when a lump is found in the thyroid. The lump is often called a thyroid nodule. These nodules are fairly common and usually do not need treatment. Only about 5% of nodules are cancerous . The needle biopsy is usually done to see if a nodule is cancer. The biopsy may also be done if there is no nodule but the thyroid is enlarged.
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Possible ComplicationsProblems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Bruising where the needle was inserted
- Pain after the procedure
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureIn the days leading up to your procedure, you may have a physical exam and blood tests. Your doctor will talk with you about your medical history, including any allergies you may have. Talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking. You may be need to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedureYou will need to arrange for a ride home from the care center.
AnesthesiaLocal anesthesia is used. The area that is affected will be numb.You may also be given a sedative to help you relax
Description of the ProcedureThere are two types of biopsies:
- Fine-needle aspiration (FNA)—most common
- Coarse-needle biopsy (CNB)
How Long Will It Take?About 10-30 minutes
Will It Hurt?You may feel soreness at the biopsy site for 1-2 days. Talk to your doctor about medications that may help.
Post-procedure CareWhen you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
- If you had FNA, remove the bandage within a few hours. If you had CNB, remove the bandage in a few days.
- Avoid vigorous physical activity for 24 hours.
- Return to normal activities.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication if you need to.
Call Your DoctorAfter arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Excessive neck swelling
- Unusual pain or discomfort
American Thyroid Association
Thyroid Foundation of America
Thyroid Foundation of Canada
Ross DS. Fine needle aspiration biopsy of thyroid nodules/instructions for patients undergoing core needle biopsy. Thyroid Foundation of Canada website. Available at: http://www.thyroid.ca/e12b.php. Accessed August 21, 2014.
Thyroid nodules. American Thyroid Association website. Available at: http://www.thyroid.org/what-are-thyroid-nodules. Published June 4, 2012. Accessed August 21, 2014.
Thyroid nodule. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 14, 2014. Accessed August 21, 2014.
Thyroid nodules. New York Thyroid Center website. Available at: http://columbiathyroidcenter.org/nodules.html. Accessed August 21, 2014.
Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy of the thyroid. Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at: http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=thyroidbiopsy. Updated March 7, 2013. Accessed August 21, 2014.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 09/30/2013