When is this exam indicated?
Thyroid ultrasound is recommended when nodular thyroid pathology is suspected. This may occur due to the presence of compressive symptoms in the neck region (e.g., trouble swallowing, dysphonia, dysphagia, "crushing" sensation in the neck, dyspnea) or due to the appearance of a clinically evident or palpable swelling. It is also indicated in case of familiarity with thyroid cancer. For patients with dysthyroidism (hypo- or hyperthyroidism) thyroid ultrasound is recommended as it can help to define the cause of thyroid dysfunction and to assess the possible presence of associated nodules. In the presence of nodules, thyroid ultrasound allows to define the risk class and to provide useful information for the clinician to assess the necessity to perform a needle aspiration.
How is it performed?
Thyroid ultrasound is performed in an outpatient clinic, with the patient lying on the couch in a supine position, with the neck hyperextended. It uses multi-frequency linear probes, in some cases (eg, goiter with mediastinal extension) it may be useful to complete the examination with a convex probe. It is also associated with color-doppler evaluation for the study of glandular vasculature and individual thyroid nodules. It is also possible to determine the consistency of the nodules through their study by elastosonography.
There are no contraindications to the examination.