The thyroid gland is butterfly-shaped gland found at the centre of the neck, wrapping the trachea. It is responsible for the production of thyroxine, a hormone that regulates metabolism.
Conditions arising from the thyroid gland include
- Hormone imbalance – too much and too little.
- Tumour formation – usually in the form of nodules. These can be solitary or multiple.
Like most neck lumps, to investigate any suspicious thyroid lumps, a fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) and imaging is required. But unlike other neck lumps, an ultrasound is the best modality to assess thyroid nodules.
The need for treatment of a thyroid nodule depends on the suspicion level of the nodule. The results of the FNAC and ultrasound will show features that will help guide our decision on whether treatment is required.
For the FNAC, surgery is generally recommended if
- Atypical cells
- Papillary cells
- Follicular cells
In the ultrasound, features that suggest increased suspicion include
- Increased vascularity
The only treatment for thyroid nodule/s is surgery. Once the nodule is excised, it can be examined properly and the final diagnosis made.