Thyroid ultrasound (US) is a type of instrumental diagnosis that uses high-frequency ultrasound waves. Their ability to penetrate and reflect from certain tissues forms a visual picture of the organ on the monitor of the device, which helps to assess a large number of its parameters. With this method of examination you can also see all the necessary formations nearby (larynx, lymph nodes, ligaments, etc.).
Ultrasound of the thyroid gland is widely used in the routine practice of many doctors because it has several advantages:
- Low radiation exposure (can be performed an unlimited number of times without health risk)
- There are no age restrictions to perform (allowed for both children and adults)
- There are no absolute contraindications (relative include burns, boils or other infectious lesions or rashes on the neck)
- Affordable cost of examination (compared to other methods, such as MRI)
- Does not require special preparing
- Comfortable conditions (external access using a special sensor, minimum time to perform the survey and obtain results)
- Highly informative - ultrasound is the gold standard in the diagnosis of thyroid disease, as it provides sufficient data about it and in some cases may even establish a preliminary diagnosis.
Ultrasound diagnosis of the thyroid gland is often recommended by many specialists for patients both for prophylactic purposes and in the presence of certain complaints.
The thyroid gland is an important organ of the endocrine system that produces special biologically active substances (hormones): TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (tetraiodothyronine) and calcitonin. Thanks to them, the work of the digestive, cardiovascular and reproductive systems of our body is regulated. As a result, in violation of their work there are a variety of symptoms that can affect the change in the structure or size of the gland itself, and provoke long-term consequences in other parts and systems of our body. Therefore, in their presence, first of all it is necessary to perform ultrasound diagnostics.
The main indications are:
- Pain or foreign body sensation in the throat with possible hoarseness or dry cough
- Visual changes in the size and appearance of the neck, its swelling
- Frequent mood swings, irritability and other psycho-emotional disorders.
- Increased sweating
- Sleep disorders
- Changes in blood pressure (hypo- or hypertension), arrhythmia
- Sudden changes in body weight (weight gain or loss)
- Pathological hair loss (alopecia)
- Planning a pregnancy (gland dysfunction has a negative impact on the process of fertilization and fetal development in general)
- Delay in growth, sexual or mental development in children
- Preventive examination (recommended at least once a year)
No special pre-examination measures are required. For people with an elevated gag reflex, it is recommended to come on an empty stomach to avoid it when pressing the sensor in the larynx.
Stages of implementation
- It is necessary to free the neck from hair, clothes and jewelry and lie on your back - on the couch.
- A special roller is placed under the neck area from the bottom to ensure better access.
- A special gel is applied to a special sensor of the device or directly to the neck area, which improves the conductivity and, accordingly, the visualization of the image.
- For 20-30 minutes, the doctor alternately examines and records all the necessary anatomical structures.
- After the procedure, the remnants of the applied gel are wiped and issue a conclusion with the results.
What the survey shows
- Location (offset relative to adjacent structures)
- Dimensions (increase or decrease and due to which share)
- Thickness and structure of tissues (indicate the activity of cells and their replacement in its presence on other tissues)
- Blood supply (sufficient or disrupted)
- Larynx and vocal cords (assess the presence of changes in the structure)
- Neoplasms (if they are)
What deviations can be set
First of all, it should be noted that any test results should be evaluated not only by a functional diagnostician, but also by another specialist (endocrinologist or therapist) for further examinations. The main pathologies that can be identified by ultrasound of the thyroid gland are:
- Nodular goiter * (a certain number of nodules in the glandular structure is clearly visible)
- Diffuse toxic goiter (significant increase in the amount of glandular tissue)
- Autoimmune thyroiditis (reduction or increase in size while the volume of structures does not change)
- Malignant and benign tumors, cysts of the thyroid gland
- Neoplasms of the vocal cords or larynx
* goiter - an increase in the size of the thyroid gland, provoked by disorders in its work.
Thyroid problems, according to the WHO, occur in 3 out of 5 people surveyed. Given this extremely high level of lesions, it is recommended that screening examinations be performed annually (or more often if there are medical indications), as prevention is the best treatment.
Particular attention should also be paid to children, pregnant women and people living in endemic areas with low iodine levels (an extremely important element for the functioning of the gland). Polissya, Zakarpattia, Karpaty and Prykarpattya are traditionally recognized as such in Ukraine.