Thyroid Examination – When and for Whom is it Recommended?

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The thyroid is a vital gland, primarily responsible for producing thyroid hormones – thereby playing a role in regulating the body's metabolism, brain function, or, for example, growth. If it cannot properly fulfill its role, it can lead to life-threatening conditions.

To assess the function of the thyroid, various examination methods can be used, with blood tests being the most common. The lab test can accurately determine the amount of thyroid hormones in the blood, based on which it can be decided if further tests (e.g., ultrasound, X-ray, CT, MRI, scintigraphy, or aspiration cytology) are needed to establish an accurate diagnosis.

Thyroid Examination – When a Blood Test is Not Enough

In the context of thyroid diseases, there may arise underactivity or overactivity of the gland, enlargement, inflammation, or tumorous changes. To establish an accurate diagnosis, besides the lab tests, the following diagnostic procedures might be necessary:

Ultrasound – The examination carries no risks or discomfort (can be safely used for children and pregnant women). With this method, the doctor can get information about the size, structure, and any deviations of the gland. Modern Doppler – specifically for studying the vessels – can provide an accurate picture regarding the condition of the arteries supplying the organ.

Isotope Examination – This method is primarily used to determine the type of nodules formed within the thyroid (the isotopic substance administered intravenously or orally helps give a detailed picture of the organ's structure). The examination is painless but comes with minimal radiation exposure, so it's not recommended during pregnancy.

Aspiration Cytology – This examination method is necessary when there's a suspicion of malignancy. During aspiration cytology, cells used for the smear are removed from the organ with a thin needle, and the taken sample is examined by the relevant specialist. The procedure involves minimal discomfort and provides a precise picture of the vital gland's condition without surgical intervention.

Symptoms Indicating Thyroid Disease

While diagnosing is the job of a specialist, recognizing the pathological processes is crucial by knowing the symptoms. The following signs can draw attention to abnormal thyroid function:

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  • Weight changes
  • Neck tension
  • Fatigue, mood swings
  • Insufficient cholesterol levels
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Hair and skin problems
  • Gynecological issues

It's recommended to undergo a thyroid examination even without symptoms!

By treating thyroid disease in time, the onset of severe problems can be prevented. Always get to the root of the symptoms or see if the given lab results warrant further examination.

Given the high prevalence of thyroid diseases, a complex screening consisting of endocrine examination, blood-based thyroid function determination, and thyroid ultrasound is recommended annually for older individuals.

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Last update: 2023. 10. 24. 16:09