Even if you’ve never had one performed, you probably have some idea of what an ultrasound is. By using high-frequency sound waves to produce images of structures inside the body, clinicians can glean valuable information about a patient’s health.
It’s a simple way to help diagnose a variety of conditions without the complex equipment or radioactive materials needed for procedures like MRIs.
One of the most common versions is the thyroid ultrasound. To see why this procedure is so valuable, let’s take a look at how it works and the benefits it can provide.
A Thyroid Ultrasound Explained
While you may receive a variety of ultrasounds as part of a regular check-up, you’ll usually only get an ultrasound for your thyroid in the direction of your doctor.
Usually, you’ll know when to get a thyroid ultrasound after a thyroid function test comes back abnormal. A doctor might also order one if they find lumps on your throat during an exam.
The test takes only a few moments. The clinician will spread a water-based gel over the area to be examined, and then run a wand called a transducer over the skin. The transducer emits sound waves that bounce off the internal structures of your body.
A computer picks up the rebounding soundwaves and uses them to assemble an image a doctor can analyze. It’s a non-invasive way to examine any abnormal growths or swelling.
Checking for thyroid cancer is a common use for ultrasounds. While thyroid cancer is considered one of the most treatable forms of cancer, early detection still helps to improve the prognosis. An ultrasound can help catch thyroid cancer or other tumors in their early stages.
The Benefits of a Thyroid Ultrasound
An ultrasound can give a doctor a lot of valuable information with comparatively little effort.
If they’re examining a suspicious growth, for instance, an ultrasound can help determine if it’s solid or fluid-filled, how many growths there are, and a variety of other qualities that could help produce a diagnosis.
And there are no documented risks associated with ultrasounds. This makes it a versatile tool, not only for examining the throat but many areas of the body as well.
This flexibility contributes to ultrasound technicians being in high demand. If you’ve ever considered a career in the medical field, ultrasound classes can be a great point of entry.
From the patient’s perspective, it’s also a more affordable procedure than radiology. Rates vary depending on the provider and the type of imaging used, but $100-$1,000 is the norm.
Taking Advantage of the Benefits of Ultrasounds
Ultrasounds are quick, painless, and safe procedures that can help identify several in their early stages. And the thyroid ultrasound is only one example.
Ultrasounds are used for everything from diagnosing diseases like cancer to checking the health of an infant in utero. But it’s only one tool among many that doctors and clinicians have at their disposal, and new techniques are being developed every day.
To stay current with cutting-edge advances and emerging procedures, be sure to keep up with our latest health and medical news.