Odds are, if you are familiar with thyroid nodules then perhaps you or a close loved one have received a previous diagnosis. Thyroid nodules are solid or fluid filled lumps within your thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland located at the base of the neck, just above the breastbone.
Thankfully, most thyroid nodules are not a serious health risk and usually never present any symptoms. Often times, individuals have no idea they have a nodule until it is discovered during a routine medical exam. Sometimes a nodule is detected during an imaging test for another condition in your head or neck via an ultrasound, CT or MRI scan. In rare cases a nodule may become large enough to be visible on the base of the neck or even inhibit swallowing or breathing. Thyroid nodules can also potentially lead to an increase in the production of the hormone thyroxine causing symptoms of hyperthyroidism such as:
- Weight loss
- Intolerance to heat
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
A very small percentage of thyroid nodules turn out to be thyroid cancer. In order to determine if a nodule is cancerous, malignant, or not, a needle biopsy must be performed. If the nodule is found to be cancerous, the entire thyroid will need to be removed.
While most thyroid nodules are benign and do not cause health concerns, you and your physicians should monitor the condition carefully to identify early on the development of any new symptoms.
“It is important to note a thyroid nodule or any thyroid condition for that matter, is not a consequence of ones behavior,” says general surgeon William C. Gibson, MD, FACS of Premier Surgical Associates. “While aging females are at the highest risk of presenting with a thyroid issue, the number one risk factor is genetics – something that cannot be changed.”
Once a thyroid nodule has been detected, your primary care physician will likely refer you to an endocrinologist, a physician specializing in endocrine disorders. In preparation for this appointment you should be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions required for any diagnostic tests you might receive. You should also make note of any symptoms you are experiencing, family medical history, important personal medical information, and any questions you may have.
So, do you not know about the symptoms of thyroid nodules? Well, most often there are no symptoms and they are usually discovered during a routine exam or diagnostic testing for another condition of the head or neck. This is another reason to keep your regularly scheduled appointments and monitor any changes with your body. Some thyroid nodules will require surgical treatment to include the partial or full removal of the gland.
The physicians at Premier Surgical Associates in Knoxville have specialized skills and knowledge in the areas of thyroid and endocrine surgery providing patients with the best options for comprehensive, state-of-the-art care. To learn more about the specialized care patients can expect to receive from Premier Surgical Associates visit our website or for additional information about thyroid surgery from the American Thyroid Association click here.