Thyroid Needle Biopsy

What is Thyroid Needle Biopsy

Thyroid needle biopsy is a procedure to remove small samples of tissue or fluid from the thyroid gland. The samples are then examined under a microscope. The thyroid is a gland in the lower front area of the neck.

It produces hormones that affect many important body processes, including growth and development, body temperature, and how the body uses food for energy (metabolism). This procedure is often done to help diagnose cancer, infection, or other problems with the thyroid.

During this procedure, a thin needle (fine needle) is inserted through the skin and into the thyroid gland. This is less invasive than a procedure in which an incision is made over the thyroid (open thyroid biopsy). Sometimes, an open thyroid biopsy may be done during a different surgery, such as surgery to remove a part or a whole section (lobe) of the thyroid gland (open lobectomy).

Tell a health care provider about:

  • Any allergies you have.
  • All medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, eye drops, creams, and over-the-counter medicines.
  • Any problems you or family members have had with anesthetic medicines.
  • Any blood disorders you have.
  • Any surgeries you have had.
  • Any medical conditions you have.
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, problems may occur, including:

  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Allergic reactions to medicines.
  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels in the neck.

What happens before the procedure?

Medicines

  • Ask your health care provider about:
    • Changing or stopping your regular medicines. This is especially important if you are taking diabetes medicines or blood thinners.
    • Taking medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen. These medicines can thin your blood. Do not take these medicines unless your health care provider tells you to take them.
    • Taking over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements.

General instructions

  • You may have blood tests.
  • You may have an ultrasound before or during the needle biopsy.

What happens during the procedure?

  • You will be asked to lie on your back with your head tipped backward to extend your neck. You may be asked to avoid coughing, talking, swallowing, or making sounds during some parts of the procedure.
  • To lower your risk of infection:
    • Your health care team will wash or sanitize their hands.
    • The skin over your thyroid will be cleaned with a germ-killing (antiseptic) solution.
  • A local anesthetic (lidocaine) may be injected into the skin over your thyroid, to numb the area.
  • An ultrasound may be done to help guide the needle to the desired area of your thyroid.
  • A fine needle will be inserted into your thyroid. The needle will be used to remove tissue or fluid samples as needed. The samples will be sent to a lab for examination.
  • The needle will be removed.
  • Pressure may be applied to your neck to reduce swelling and stop bleeding.

The procedure may vary among health care providers and hospitals.

What happens after the procedure?

  • It is up to you to get the results of your procedure. Ask your health care provider, or the department that is doing the procedure, when your results will be ready.

Summary

  • Thyroid needle biopsy is a procedure to remove small samples of tissue or fluid from the thyroid gland.
  • During this procedure, a thin needle (fine needle) is inserted through the skin and into the thyroid gland. This is less invasive than a procedure in which an incision is made over the thyroid (open thyroid biopsy).
  • You will be asked to lie on your back with your head tipped backward to extend your neck. You may be asked to avoid coughing, talking, swallowing, or making sounds during some parts of the procedure.

Thyroid Needle Biopsy, Care After

This sheet gives you information about how to care for yourself after your procedure. Your health care provider may also give you more specific instructions. If you have problems or questions, contact your health care provider.

What can I expect after the procedure?

After the procedure, it is common to have:

  • Soreness and tenderness that lasts for a few days.
  • Bruising where the needle was inserted (puncture site).

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • To help ease discomfort, keep your head raised (elevated) when you are lying down. When you move from lying down to sitting up, use both hands to support the back of your head and neck.
  • Check your puncture site every day for signs of infection. Check for:
    • Redness, swelling, or pain.
    • Fluid or blood.
    • Warmth.
    • Pus or a bad smell.
  • Return to your normal activities as told by your health care provider. Ask your health care provider what activities are safe for you.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have redness, swelling, or pain around your puncture site.
  • You have fluid or blood coming from your puncture site.
  • Your puncture site feels warm to the touch.
  • You have pus or a bad smell coming from your puncture site.
  • You have a fever.

Get help right away if:

  • You have severe bleeding from the puncture site.
  • You have difficulty swallowing.
  • You have swollen glands (lymph nodes) in your neck.

Summary

  • It is common to have some bruising and soreness where the needle was inserted in your lower front neck area (puncture site).
  • Check your puncture site every day for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pain.
  • Get help right away if you have severe bleeding from your puncture site.
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