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Thyroid Fine-needle Aspiration Biopsy


Thyroid fine-needle aspiration biopsy is a procedure to remove tissue and fluid from a nodule (lump) in the thyroid gland. This test helps your healthcare provider diagnose thyroid cancer or identify thyroid nodules that are not cancer. Your healthcare provider uses the results to decide whether you need additional treatment.


The day of the procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • Tell your caregiver if you know or think you might be pregnant.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell him if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine. Ask if you need to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, blood thinners, or antiplatelet medicine before the procedure. Ask how long before the procedure you should stop.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have a condition that affects blood clotting, such as liver disease, kidney disease, hemophilia, or thrombocytopenia. Tell him about any health conditions you have, such as a history of cancer or radiation therapy. Also tell him if you or anyone in your family has had thyroid disease or thyroid cancer.

During the procedure:

  • You will lie on your back. A rolled towel or blanket will be placed under your shoulders to help raise your neck. Try to keep your body relaxed and your neck still. Anesthesia medicine may be injected in your neck to numb the area. Your healthcare provider may be able to locate the nodules easily by feeling your neck with his fingers. He may use ultrasound to find the nodules or see them better.
  • Your healthcare provider will insert a very thin needle into the nodule and remove tissue and fluid. You may feel pressure or pulling as he rotates the needle to different areas within the nodule. Tell the healthcare provider if you feel sudden or severe pain. You may need tissue removed from more than 1 nodule. You may also need tissue removed from the lymph nodes in your neck.
  • You or your healthcare provider will apply pressure to your neck with a gauze pad. Do this for at least 2 or 3 minutes to help prevent bleeding and other complications. The fluid and tissue samples will be sent to the lab for tests.

After the procedure:

  • A healthcare provider will observe you for about 30 minutes to see if you have any swelling or bruising.
  • A cold compress or ice bag may be placed on your neck to ease swelling and discomfort.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you should limit your activity after the procedure.
  • Ask how and when you can find out the results of your biopsy. Ask if you need any other follow-up visits, tests, or procedures.


You may have mild pain, swelling, or bruising after the procedure. There is a risk that not enough tissue will be collected. The tissue could be removed from the wrong location or damaged during collection or storage. The lab results could be inconclusive. This means the test could fail to find cancer that exists or indicate that you have cancer when you do not. The procedure may need to be repeated. A nodule that has been drained may fill with fluid again and come back. Bleeding inside the nodule could form a new lump in your neck. Your trachea, carotid artery, or jugular vein could be damaged by the needle. You could have heavy internal bleeding. A small mass of blood (hematoma) can collect under the skin where the needle was inserted. Rarely, you could have a massive hematoma. This can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.