Thyroid biopsy - what to expect.

thyroid ultrasound

Thyroid biopsy - what to expect.

Nodules, or growths, in the thyroid are very common.  When a nodule reaches a certain size, or if it has suspicious features on ultrasound, it may need to be biopsied. 

In our radiology department, thyroid biopsies are done with ultrasound guidance.  This means that the doctor will use the ultrasound to guide a tiny needle into the nodule that needs to be biopsied.  Ultrasound guidance provides assurance that the correct part of the thyroid was sampled.

Before your biopsy

The day before your biopsy, one of our nurses will call you to confirm the time and day of your biopsy appointment.  If you want to receive a mild sedative for the procedure, please arrange for someone to drive you to and from your biopsy appointment.

What to expect the day of your biopsy

At Trinity West, you will check in to our Same Day Surgery department.  The nursing staff will ask you some questions about your medical history.  You will then head downstairs to our Radiology department holding area.  Here, one of our Interventional Radiology nurses will introduce themselves, and verify some information with you.  One of our doctors, a radiologist, will then come to talk with you about the procedure, and answer any questions you may have.

During the procedure, you will be lying flat, with your neck extended as much as is comfortable for you.  The ultrasound technologist will examine your neck with the ultrasound machine, to verify the nodule or nodule that will be biopsied.  Next, the doctor will verify again the nodule to be biopsied.  Your neck will be cleaned with a sterile solution, and towel will be applied around your neck to keep the area clean.  Your skin and tissues will be numbed.  Then, at least 3 samples of the nodule will be taken.  We will place a dressing over the tiny wound, which is smaller than a wound you would get from an IV.  Then, you will go back up to Same Day Surgery and can leave from there.

After your biopsy

Once the numbing medicine wears off, you may have some soreness where the biopsies were taken.  You may develop some bruising, too.  A cold compress or some Tylenol, if you are able to take it, may help.  Difficulty breathing or a large lump in the neck could indicate a significant problem.  If either or those symptoms develop, go to the emergency department.

What does the biopsy feel like?

Your skin will be numb, so you will not feel sharp pain.  Some people report a feeling of pressure when the biopsy is being taken.  Others say that the sensation just feels weird.  You can get sensations that feel deep in the neck or up into the ear.  Usually people do not have sharp pain.  If you experience this, let the doctor know so that you can get more numbing medicine.

When do the results come back?

Typically, it takes about 3 business days for your results.  You can call the doctor who referred you for biopsy to discuss results.


Ready to schedule your biopsy?  Please call 740-283-7440 for Trinity West or 740-922-2800 for Trinity Hospital Twin City.

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