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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Thyroid and Parathyroid Ultrasound
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A thyroid and parathyroid ultrasound is a type of imaging test. It checks the thyroid gland and parathyroid glands. A thyroid ultrasound can help measure the size and shape of the thyroid gland. But it can't tell how well the thyroid gland is working. Ultrasound also may be used to check the four parathyroid glands that lie behind or next to the thyroid.
The thyroid gland makes a hormone called thyroxine. This hormone controls how fast the body converts food into energy (metabolism). Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is made by the parathyroid glands. It controls the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood.
During a thyroid and parathyroid ultrasound, a small handheld device called a transducer is passed back and forth over the neck. This makes a picture of the thyroid gland and parathyroid glands.
A thyroid and parathyroid ultrasound is done to:
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form .
This test is usually done by a radiologist or by an ultrasound technologist. It is done in an ultrasound room in a doctor's office or hospital.
You may be asked to undress above the waist. And you may drape a paper or cloth covering around your shoulders. Remove all jewelry from your head or around your neck.
You will lie on your back on a high table with your neck stretched out. You'll have a pillow under your shoulders. Gel will be spread on your neck. This helps the sound waves pass through better. (They do not pass easily through air.) A small water-filled bag or gelatin sponge might be placed over your throat. This also helps to conduct the sound waves. The transducer will be pressed against your neck (or against the water-filled bag or gelatin sponge, if used). Then it will be moved back and forth over your neck. A picture of your thyroid gland and the tissue around it can be seen on a video screen. You may be asked to turn your head away from the side being scanned so your jawbone is out of the way.
The test takes about 30 minutes. You may be asked to wait until the radiologist has reviewed the information. The radiologist may want to do more ultrasound views of your neck.
The gel may feel cold when it is put on your neck. Keeping your neck extended during the test may cause some discomfort. But you should not feel discomfort from the transducer or sound waves. You will be able to breathe and swallow normally during the test. You will not hear the sound waves.
There is very little chance of a problem from this test.
A thyroid ultrasound test does not use radiation. It is safe to use during pregnancy and will not harm your growing baby.
A thyroid and parathyroid ultrasound is a type of imaging test. It checks the thyroid gland and parathyroid glands. The results of this test are usually ready in 2 to 3 days.
The thyroid gland and parathyroid glands are the right shape and are in the right place.
The glands are not too big or too small.
No growths or other problems are seen.
The thyroid gland is too big, or a growth (thyroid nodule) or cyst is seen in the thyroid gland. A thyroid gland that is too big is called a goiter.
The parathyroid glands are too big.
You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:
Other Works Consulted
Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.
Current as of: July 29, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineMatthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Current as of: July 29, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Matthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
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