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Fine Needle Aspiration for Thyroid Nodule
Sunday, 22 February 2009 11:13


What is a fine-needle aspiration (FNA)? 


In order to get a tissue sample from a thyroid growth/nodule without surgery your doctor will most likely do a procedure called a fine-needle aspiration (FNA).   This procedure consists of using a needle to extract cells from the thyroid nodule and/or suspicious tissue.  In many cases the endocrinologist will use high-resolution ultrasound guidance to ensure the needle is placed within the thyroid nodule.  The doctor will usually take multiple samples from different location in the nodule, typically 3 locations.  The tissue samples can then be stained and viewed under a microscope by a pathologist who will determine if the sample consists of cancer cells.   


Overall, this procedure is highly accurate.  Studies show that the typical results from a fine needle aspiration are:  80% show a benign mass, 10% Indeterminate or suspicious, and 5% Insufficient sample, 5% Malignant.   The chances of the test being inaccurate are very low (false-negative rates are 1%-5%).1

So if you have been diagnosis with a thyroid nodule expect a FNA.  I’m sure the thought of a doctor sticking a needle in your neck sounds a little scary but it sure beats surgery.   I would prefer the FNA any day over surgery!


Here is a youtube video of a FNA. This patient was first injected with a numbing medication.  I did not use any numbing medication.  It really didn’t hurt that much.  It just felt like a little pinch on the neck. 


Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2013 17:20

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