Fine Needle Aspiration

Why are biopsies of the thyroid performed? 

A fine needle aspiration biopsy of the thyroid is performed to obtain tissue from the thyroid gland (often a nodule within the thyroid gland) that is then reviewed by a pathologist to detect or rule out cancer. This procedure is minimally invasive and in many cases you can return to normal duties immediately following the procedure. Biopsies take thirty to sixty minutes and are scheduled at a separate appointment following a consultation, office visit, or ultrasound. 

How should I prepare for the procedure? 

Please notify your physician if you are taking any blood thinning agents, such as aspirin, Lovenox, Plavix, or Coumadin. These may need to be discontinued prior to the procedure. Do not stop these medications unless instructed by your physician. 

What should I expect? 

Your neck will be cleaned with an antiseptic. Local anesthesia may be used. The physician will then use an ultrasound to locate the area of the thyroid gland, usually a nodule, to be biopsied. A thin needle will be inserted into the nodule to remove a small amount of blood containing cells to be reviewed by a pathologist. You may feel pressure during the biopsy, but it is usually not a painful procedure. Several passes are needed to adequately sample the nodule.