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Goiter Tests And Diagnosis

Your doctor will discover larger lumps in the thyroid gland by feeling your neck during a physical exam. A doctor may also have you swallow during this exam.

A diagnosis of goiter could also involve:

Goiter Test
  • A hormone test. A blood test can show the amount of hormone created by the thyroid and pituitary glands. Thyroid hormone production will be low for an underactive thyroid gland. The pituitary gland will try to stimulate your thyroid gland to produce more hormones by supplying more thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH. Goiter that is associated with an overactive thyroid more than likely involves a higher level of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream and a lower than normal thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH level.

  • Antibody testing. The existence of abnormal antibodies can lead to goiter. This test can reveal the production of these if they are present.

  • Ultrasonography. In this exam, a transducer, which looks like a wand, is held over the neck. Sound waves bounce throughout the neck and back which create images on a computer monitor. Those images will display any enlargement in the thyroid gland and any nodules that may be present and not found during the physical exam.

  • A thyroid scan. A thyroid scan involves a radioactive isotope being injected into the bloodstream – typically through the vein on the inside part of the elbow. The patient lies on a table with the head stretched backward so that a camera can take an image of your thyroid and display it on a computer monitor. These scans give us information regarding the structure and size of the thyroid. They are more thorough time-consuming and expensive when compared to the ultrasound tests.

Treatments And Drugs

Your doctor may recommend:

  • Observation. Your doctor may suggest you simply wait-and-see.

  • Medications. Medication such as levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone, can slow the release of thyroid-stimulating hormone from your pituitary gland. It may also decrease the appearance of the goiter. Corticosteroid medication can treat inflammation. There are also medications used to normalize hormone levels. Of course, you will need to consult your physician.

  • Surgery. This is the most common form of treatment. It is called a thyroidectomy. This is the removal of the malignant lobes in the thyroid glands. It can be a full removal or a partial one. It may be necessary to take levothyroxine after the operation surgery, depending on how much of the thyroid gland was being removed during surgery.

  • Radioactive iodine. This is used to treat an overactive thyroid gland. It can be taken orally entering the bloodstream to target malignant thyroid cells for death. This treatment can significantly reduce the appearance of a goiter but in some cases can cause an underactive thyroid gland. In these cases, synthetic thyroid hormone such as levothyroxine may need to be taken for life.
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