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Fine Needle Aspiration – Thyroid Biopsy

Posted by rhondascooking on November 29, 2010

My doctor asked me to take an ultrasound guided biopsy due to the discovery of a nodule in my right lobe.  Because I didn’t know much about this procedure at that time, I had no idea that this test could not be done in a lab, but instead it had to be done at a hospital as out patient surgery!   WOW, it’s just a test, right?  Well, after going through this test, it really is more than just a test.  An ultrasound guided biopsy is a technique that is performed with a fine needle and guided by ultrasound–is is called guided FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration).  When this test is performed, the goal is to analyze any nodules and to withdraw cells to determine whether they are cancerous or not.

How does the FNA biopsy work?

Under conscious sedation or basic numbing medicine, a fine needle is inserted in your throat, directly into the nodule, which is located in the thyroid.  An ultrasound device is used to determine the location of the nodule so that the doctor will find the exact location of the nodule. Then cells are extracted and placed on a slide for evaluations.

(NOTE: Because I did not have anyone to drive me home in the middle of the day, and the fact that I spoke with a nurse a few days prior about what to except, I decided to not have conscious sedation done. Instead I decided to treat this process as if I was at the dentist office having a root canal done! There is very little to no pain!)

How to prepare for the FNA biopsy?

  1. Work with your doctor to find a hospital (or clinic) that does this sort of biopsy and then schedule the appointment.
  2. Find out from the hospital scheduler/nurse all of the required documentations/tests that are needed prior to the biopsy.  Ask the following questions:
      Is additional blood work required?
      Do I need to bring a copy of the ultrasound film?
      Do I need to fast prior to the biopsy? 
      How long will the procedure take?
      What numbing procedure is used for this biospy–basic numbing medicine or conscious sedation?
      Will I be immediately released after the procedure or will I be monitored for an hour or so?
      When will I be able to eat?
      Will there be any soreness?
  3. Follow out patient instructions after the biopsy.
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4 Responses to “Fine Needle Aspiration – Thyroid Biopsy”

  1. Andrea said

    Rhonda,

    Did you get the result of your FNA?

    • Yes, I did and it was the same as last year…inconclusive. Basically, similar as last years’ experience, there was a lot of inflammation and blood that it was difficult to get a good read. I had to undergo 3 biopsies in 1 day each having four different draws and still it was a difficult read. The doctor who did the analysis has high confidence that I do not have cancer and I have faith that I do not either, so I am not going to do another biopsy unless my yearly ultrasound indicates that the nodule has grown in size or if I have new nodules. According to last year’s ultrasound, the nodule is the same size. After having 12 intense pokes in my neck, leaving a little mark behind, I’m opting to not do a biopsy unless necessary. So, I’m celebrating that all is well in terms of being cancer free. Now I’m still battling with trying to keep my thyroid in a “normal” state–right now I’m hypothyroid active, which means for me, I’m 10 pounds heavier since October!

      Have you had a FNA before?

  2. Andrea said

    Yes… A failed one in 2009 (dr didn’t use guided imagery & failed to collect any tissue).

    Aug 2010 another one using ultrasound guided imagery – came back cancer. I had just switched to Armour thyroid in May. Thyroidectomy last Oct 29. Nodule has 1/2 the size an ultrasound from June showed.

    I turned down the radioactive iodine therapy. My cancer was contained, no lymph node involvement.

    I now wish I had not gone through with surgery. I’m finding people are ridding of their nodules & cancer with iodine therapy. There is iodine in Armour thyroid so I believe that is why my nodule was 1/2 the size they thought it was.

    • Sorry to hear that you had cancer cells, but glad that you are okay! My mom had a thyroidectomy after discovering the cancer cell and followed up with RAI. She had LOTS of nodules, but she’s doing well. Don’t regret your decision, I think I would have made the same choice if it were me. Just make sure you stay on top of doing 4 to 6 month check ups to make sure everything is okay. Keep me posted! By the way, I do compounded T4/T3.

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