What is a needle thyroid biopsy?
During a fine-needle biopsy of the thyroid, your doctor uses a thin needle to remove a small sample of tissue from your thyroid gland. You may be having the biopsy to find what is causing a lump or growth in your thyroid.
The biopsy causes very little pain. But your doctor may need to put the needle into your thyroid more than once. This is done to be sure enough fluid and tissue is taken for the test.
The doctor then looks at the tissue sample under a microscope for cancer, infection, or other thyroid problems.
The biopsy is done in a hospital, a clinic, or your doctor's office. You may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
During the test, you will lie on your back with a pillow under your shoulders. Your head will be tipped backward and your neck extended. This position pushes the thyroid gland forward. This makes it easier to do the biopsy.
You may be given medicine to help you relax. Your doctor may use an ultrasound to guide the placement of the needle.
It is important to lie very still during the biopsy. Do not cough, talk, or swallow when the needle is in place.
In some cases, thyroid surgery may be needed if a needle biopsy doesn't give a clear result. This would be done at a different time. In this surgery, the doctor takes a tissue sample through a cut (incision) in the skin.
How do you prepare for the procedure?
Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.
Preparing for the procedure
Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.
What happens on the day of the procedure?
Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.
At the hospital or surgery center
Bring a picture ID.
The procedure will take about 5 to 10 minutes.
When should you call your doctor?
- You have questions or concerns.
- You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
- You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
- You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter J510 in the search box to learn more about "Fine-Needle Thyroid Biopsy: Before Your Procedure".
Current as of: May 4, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam David Schaffner MD, FACS - Plastic Surgery, Otolaryngology