The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is located in the front of the neck. It uses iodine to help produce several types of hormones, including those that aid in regulating the body’s metabolism, muscle control, bone maintenance, and heart and digestive functions.
A growth on the thyroid will require a medical scan to find out whether it is only a benign nodule, if it is an enlarged thyroid (also called a goiter), or if it is cancerous. A thyroid scan is performed by a radiologist, which is a physician who is specially trained in medical imaging.
WHY WOULD I NEED A THYROID SCAN?
A thyroid scan evaluates abnormalities in the thyroid, which are usually discovered in a laboratory test or physical exam while the doctor is checking for something else. An abnormality may have been discovered in an MRI or an X-ray, such as when evaluating a chronic disease or an injury. An enlargement of the front of the neck would also likely warrant a thyroid scanning test.
A thyroid scan can help a doctor diagnose:
- Inflammation or swelling
- Lumps or nodules
- Hyperthyroidism (elevated thyroid function)
- Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)
- Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid)
- Thyroid cancer
Although radiation exposure during a thyroid scan is minimal and short-term, this is still not a recommended test for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING THE PROCEDURE
Before your thyroid scan, you will likely be given a radioisotope tracer either through injection, tablet, or liquid. This tracer will be used to evaluate the thyroid. Once absorbed in the body, the tracer temporarily releases gamma rays so the radiologist can observe how the thyroid responds to it.
You will be asked to lie down on the examination table. The radiologist will then tilt your head back to extend your neck.
A gamma camera or scanner will be used to detect the radioactive emissions from outside your body. The camera is connected to a computer to display the images of how your thyroid processes the tracer. The images are usually taken from at least three different angles.
The process takes about 30 minutes.
THYROID SCAN IN WOOSTER, OHIO
If you have an enlargement in the front of your neck, or if you have been told that you have a growth on your thyroid that warrants a medical evaluation, contact the medical team at Wooster Community Hospital. Our team of endocrinologists, radiologists, and other specialists will provide a full evaluation of your condition and will recommend or prescribe treatment if necessary.
Most thyroid nodules are nothing to worry about, but it is best to be sure. Your doctor will guide you throughout the procedure, from preparing beforehand to discussing the test results. If your thyroid scan shows an abnormality, your doctor might order further tests or prescribe a specific treatment.
Our radiologists at Wooster Community Hospital specialize in diagnostic and interventional radiology, including thyroid scanning. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (330) 263-8144. We look forward to serving you and your family for a lifetime of health and wellness!