Thyroid Biopsy

A thyroid biopsy is a procedure to remove a small piece of abnormal thyroid tissue, so it can be examined under a microscope for signs of damage or disease. The thyroid gland is located in front of the neck just above the neckline and is shaped like a butterfly, with two lobes on either side of the neck connected by a narrow band of tissue. Your doctor will insert a needle through your skin and into your thyroid. An imaging technique called ultrasound is used to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the appropriate site.

Before the Procedure

  • No food or liquids for 2 hours prior to the procedure. However, you may take all regular medications as scheduled with small sips of water.
  • It is recommended that you arrange for a relative or friend to drive you home after the procedure.
  • Report any medications you are taking to the radiology nurse, including “blood thinners”, such as aspirin, Plavix, Lovenox, Coumadin, Pradaxa, Xarelto, or Eliquis. Your physician may advise you to stop taking a “blood thinner” for a specific period of time before your procedure.
  • If you are taking Coumadin or Heparin, or you have known or suspected liver disease, your blood will be tested to determine if your blood clots normally.
  • Report any allergies to the radiology nurse, especially those to local anesthetic medications.

During the Procedure

  • You will be positioned on the ultrasound table and images will be taken to find the best location for biopsy.
  • The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and the selected site is covered with a large sterile sheet.
  • You will feel a slight pin prick when the local anesthetic (numbing medicine) is injected in the area.
  • Using ultrasound as a guide, the doctor inserts the needle through the skin and advances it into the abnormal thyroid tissue and removes samples of tissue. Several specimens may be needed for complete analysis.
  • After the sampling, the needle is removed and a bandage is placed over the procedure site.

Potential Risks and Complications

  • Bleeding at the procedure site
  • Infection at the procedure site
  • Injury to structures adjacent to the thyroid.

After the Procedure

  • Get plenty of rest for the remainder of the day after your biopsy. You may return to light activity the day after the biopsy.
  • Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous labor for 3 days after your biopsy.
  • Eat and drink normally. Increased fluid intake is recommended.
  • Mild pain, discomfort, or bruising at the procedure site is expected. You may take over-the-counter Tylenol for any pain you may experience.
  • You will have a small bandage over the site. You may remove the bandage in 3 days and leave the site dry and exposed. You may shower, but do not have a tub bath for 3 days.
  • Call your doctor if you have any of the following:
    • Signs of infection at the procedure site, such as redness, swelling, or a fever.
    • Bleeding from the procedure site.
    • Worsening, severe pain near the procedure site.
    • Fainting or feeling lightheaded.
  • If any further questions or complications arise and you do not know what to do, please call the radiology department at Summit Healthcare Regional Medical Center at (928) 537-4375, ext. 6549. For questions after hours please ask for ext. 6332.
  • Getting your biopsy results may take a few days. When the results are ready, your doctor will discuss them with you.