Thyroid nodules refer to solid or fluid filled lumps in the substance of your thyroid gland, which is a butterfly shaped structure in the base of your neck. Over 80% of thyroid nodules are benign. Many nodules are discovered incidentally during imaging tests for other conditions, or may be felt by you or your doctor on examination.
Once discovered, the aim of testing is to discover which nodules are harmless, and which may be a cause for concern.
The history will explore symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, prior radiation or neck surgery, voice or swallowing changes and any relevant family history. An examination will focus on the texture and size of the thyroid gland and adjacent neck tissue, as well as endoscopic camera examination of the throat and voice box, which are intimately related to the thyroid gland. Finally, investigations will include an ultrasound or CT scan and needle biopsies of concerning nodules. Blood tests and other "functional" imaging of the thyroid are also considered.
This information will allow you and your doctor to risk stratify a nodule in the thyroid gland. Frequently, re-assurance and follow up are all that are required. If the nodule requires removal, your surgeon will discuss the issues related to a part or complete thyroid gland removal in detail.