If you think you have a goitre, see your GP. They can examine your neck to see if there's any evidence of thyroid gland swelling and may request blood tests to check the function of your thyroid gland.

Thyroid function test

A thyroid function test is a type of Blood tests . A sample of your blood is taken and measured forlevelsof:

  • thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
  • thyroxine and triiodothyronine (the thyroid hormones)

If you have lower or higher-than-average levels of these hormones, it could mean you have a thyroid condition or are at risk of developing one in the future.

These are described in more detail below.

Radioactive iodine scan

This involves a small amount of radioactive iodine being injected into your vein. The iodine builds up in your thyroid gland, which canthen bestudied using a special camera.

The scan can provide useful information about the structure and function of your thyroid gland. As the amount of radiation used is very small, it's perfectly safe for most people. However, it may not be suitable if you're pregnant.

Ultrasound scan

An ultrasound scan uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of part of the inside of your body. It can be used to:

  • build up a picture of the inside of your thyroid gland
  • assess the size of your thyroid gland
  • check whether there are any enlarged nodules in your thyroid gland notfound during the physical examination

Fine-needle aspiration

Fine-needle aspiration is a procedure wherea sample of the goitre is extracted so the cells inside it can be tested. This procedure is often known asa biopsy .

During the procedure, a fine needle on the end of a syringeis inserted into the goitre in your throat. A sample of the fluid or tissue inside the goitreis sucked through the needle into the syringe.

The sample can be examined under a microscope to determine what kind of cells are inside the goitre.

Autoimmune condition
An autoimmune condition is when your immune system (the bodys defence system) produces antibodies (proteins) that should fight infections, but instead attack your body's healthy tissues.
Hormones are groups of powerful chemicals produced by the body and have a wide range of effects.
Thyroid gland
The thyroid gland is found in the neck. It produces hormones that are released into the bloodstream to control the body's growth and metabolism (the process that turns food into energy).
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016