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Video:Guide to Thyroid Biopsy

with Dr. Michael Via

Thyroid biopsies are procedures done to look for abnormalities in thyroids. This About.com video will explain how thyroid biopsies work.See Transcript

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Transcript:Guide to Thyroid Biopsy

Hello, this is Dr. Michael Via, from Beth Israel Medical Center, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Today we're going to talk, on About.com, about thyroid biopsy

What is a Thyroid Biopsy?

A thyroid biopsy is a procedure in which a doctor removes a small sample of thyroid gland tissue or thyroid nodule to check for abnormalities.

The thyroid gland is located in the neck and produces hormones that regulate the rate at which energy is consumed by the body, also known as the metabolic rate.

Sometimes nodules appear on or around the thyroid. These nodules are growths of thyroid tissue, and they are extremely common. The majority of thyroid nodules are of no clinical consequence, but a small portion of them may impact a person's health. A thyroid biopsy can help in the diagnosis.

Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy

There are two types of biopsies performed. The fine-needle aspiration biopsy uses, as its name indicates, a very small or fine needle which is placed directly into the thyroid nodule to reach and collect a sample of the thyroid tissue.

This test can be performed at a doctor's office and may not require anesthesia since the needle is so thin. The patient will be required to stop any medication that affects blood clotting usually for a few days before the procedure.

Classically, this procedure is done by palpation. Nowadays, the majority of fine needle biopsies are performed with ultrasound guidance to pinpoint the exact site for needle placement, especially in the case of hard to reach or small thyroid nodules. The procedure takes about 10 minutes.

A pathologist will then examine the specimen that is collected. Newer techniques may involve the analysis of genetic markers within the biopsy material.

Open Biopsy

The second kind of biopsy is called open biopsy, and is typically performed after a fine needle biopsy or when other tests results were inconclusive.

An open incisional biopsy is a surgical procedure done under general anesthesia. It takes about an hour. Patients are asked to not eat or drink anything for 10 hours before the surgery.

During the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision in the neck to expose the thyroid; a specimen is then collected. If the sample collected reveals cancerous cells, often the whole thyroid gland is then removed.

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