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Overview of the clinical utility of ultrasonography in thyroid disease

Manfred Blum, MD, FACP
Section Editor
Douglas S Ross, MD
Deputy Editor
Jean E Mulder, MD


Current methods of ultrasonography permit "real-time" identification of structures as small as 2 mm in diameter, thereby allowing the visualization of very small tumors of the thyroid and parathyroid glands. These methods also permit estimates of overall and regional blood flow to the thyroid. However, the results of thyroid ultrasonography do not correlate well with histopathologic findings.

Although the cost-effectiveness of ultrasonography in solving patient-specific clinical problems has not been formally tested, ultrasonography, used judiciously, helps to answer important clinical questions in specific patients. At present, ultrasonography is considered useful in the following situations:

To evaluate the anatomic features of thyroid nodules

To assist in fine needle aspiration (FNA) of thyroid nodules and cervical lymph nodes

To monitor nodular thyroid disease


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Apr 1, 2015.
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