To assess the activity of the thyroid gland, the surgeon will
- Take a medical history
- Perform a physical examination
During this assesment, the surgeon will pay particular attention to the thyroid gland in the neck.
Blood will be taken for
- Thyroid Function Tests (TFTs)
- To check and make sure that the body has not produced any antibodies to the Thyroid (auto-immune disease).
TFTs measure the activity of the gland, through the production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T4 and, if required, the T3.
Ultrasound scans can:
- Assess overall size of the thyroid gland
- Check for the presence of any lumps
- Help obtain a needle sample (cytology) from a small lump that is difficult to feel
All thyroid lumps will have a needle sample taken; this may also be undertaken when the thyroid is enlarged.
A fine needle is inserted into the gland and a cell sample is obtained, that can be examined under a microscope.
Radionuclide Scans involve injecting a tiny amount of radioactive material. This material is taken up by the thyroid gland and the radioactivity can be measured to give a picture of how well the gland is working.
The test is absolutely harmless and may show areas of the thyroid that are under-active or over-active.
Together with the ultrasound scan, this test helps to establish the correct treatment.
Occasionally other tests will be needed.
- Chest X-Ray - can sometimes show if a large gland is affecting the windpipe
- CT or MRI Scan - can help to show more exactly the extent of any thyroid swelling