Exams and Tests for Goiter

The doctor will do a physical exam. This involves feeling your neck as you swallow. Swelling in the area of the thyroid may be felt.

If you have a very large goiter, you may have swelling in your neck vein. As a result, when the doctor asks you to raise your arms above your head, you may feel dizzy.

Blood tests may be ordered to measure thyroid function:

  • Free thyroxin (T4)
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
  • An antibody test: Some causes of goiter involve production of abnormal antibodies. A blood test may confirm the presence of these antibodies.

Tests to look for abnormal and possibly cancerous areas in the thyroid gland include:

  • Thyroid scan and uptake
  • Ultrasound of the thyroid
  • A biopsy: During a fine-needle aspiration biopsy, ultrasound is used to guide a needle into your thyroid to obtain a tissue or fluid sample for testing.

If nodules are found on an ultrasound, a biopsy may be needed to check for thyroid cancer.

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