Thyroid function tests assess the levels of your thyroid hormones (T4) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). These tests evaluate the health of your thyroid gland before any further tests are done.
If you have hyperthyroidism and your levels of thyroid hormones are too high, you may experience symptoms such as palpitations, feeling hot easily, irritability, diarrhoea, weight loss, and increased appetite. Read more about hyperthyroidism.
On the other hand, if you have hypothyroidism, meaning your thyroid gland is underactive, you may feel tired and lethargic, gain weight easily, experience constipation, have memory loss, and feel cold easily. Learn
more about hypothyroidism here.
Up next comes the ultrasound scan which produces a picture of the thyroid gland and neck structures using sound waves.
The ultrasound scan will:
evaluate the thyroid nodules
indicate possible signs of cancer
look for enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
The scan is painless with no need for ionising radiation. It would show if the nodule is liquid or solid and if there are multiple nodules present.
If your doctor deems necessary, fine needle aspiration biopsy may be required to test if the nodules are cancerous or benign.
The process involves placing a tiny needle into the thyroid nodule to collect cell samples for further analyses. It takes no longer than a few minutes with no side effects. Patients can resume their regular activities after the procedure.
The possible results can be categorised into 3:
Benign: this means the nodules are non-cancerous and can be left alone. But one will still need to monitor them for changes in size with an ultrasound once or twice a year.
Malignant: malignant lymph nodules are cancerous and would need to be removed.
Read more under Treatments
Indeterminate: at times, the thyroid may not produce enough cells for doctors to conclude if the nodules are benign or malignant and the results would fall under "Indeterminate". When this happens, patients may need to repeat the procedure
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