What Should I Know about Thyroid Biopsy?

DCL Pathology 5FNA (also referred to as fine need biopsy) can be used to assess problems with a patient’s thyroid. The thyroid is a small gland located in the front of the neck that produces hormones to control metabolism.

When an abnormality is found in the thyroid, FNA is commonly ordered by doctors to diagnose the problem. Fine needle biopsy is also used to determine the nature of a lump, nodule, or when general swelling occurs in the area. CT scans and ultrasounds can also reveal an abnormality in the thyroid.

Thyroid nodules are fairly common in adults. They are more common in women with iodine deficiency in their diet, and those with previous radiation exposure. In cases when cancer does occur the rate of recovery is very high.  In most cases, they are not a serious problem.

A Less Invasive Option

FNA is a less invasive option for patients than a surgical biopsy. Historically patients have undergone surgery to remove part/all of the thyroid to get an accurate diagnosis – however, in the majority of these cases, the thyroid nodules are benign. Fine needle biopsy makes it possible to achieve an accurate diagnosis without surgery.

The Procedure

FNA for thyroid testing takes approximately 30 minutes with a total appointment time of approximately 60 minutes. A local anesthetic is used to numb the affected area. An ultrasound helps to locate the nodule and provide images for the doctor performing the procedure. If more than one nodule is present more than one may be sampled. Pressure and an ice pack are applied to the area once the needle is withdrawn. Patients are able to eat, drink and return to normal activity immediately following the procedure.


Side effects from a thyroid FNA are generally mild and may include minor swelling, pain, and/or bruising. Typically any discomfort lasts less than 48 hours. The procedure is low-risk and extremely effective for diagnosis. Additional tests might be ordered to confirm findings.


Preliminary results are generally available before you leave the office, and a full diagnostic report is usually available within 48 hours following the thyroid FNA.

DCL Pathology is one of the leading providers of thyroid biopsy using FNA. We provide a comfortable environment for patients who need FNA. If you have received a referral from your doctor or you would like to learn more about the procedure, please contact us today.