Fine needle aspiration of the thyroid


Fine Needle Aspiration of the Thyroid: Overview

Fine needle aspiration of the thyroid (FNAC) is a minimally-invasive medical procedure that can be used to diagnose thyroid disorders. It is a diagnostic tool that involves a healthcare practitioner using a very thin needle to extract a sample of cells from the thyroid gland in order to perform laboratory tests and/or microscopic analysis. FNAC is a fast, safe, outpatient procedure that can provide a quick diagnosis of a thyroid issue.

Preparing for the FNAC Procedure

Your healthcare provider will explain how to prepare for the fine needle aspiration of the thyroid procedure and provide you with an appointment to do the procedure. A few days prior to the test, you should avoid taking any anticoagulants, aspirin or other blood thinners that can affect the accuracy of the test. You may also be asked to fast prior to the procedure, to increase accuracy of the lab results.

The FNAC Procedure

The fine needle aspiration of the thyroid procedure is done in the doctor’s office or in a hospital or clinic. It is a painless procedure usually completed within 15-30 minutes, and typically does not require anesthesia. You may be given a sedative or anxiolytic to make the procedure more comfortable, but this is typically not necessary. The healthcare provider will gently insert the very thin needle into the thyroid gland and draw out cells or a sample of fluid. If there is any pain, the doctor should be informed immediately.

Types of FNAC Tests Available

Since different types of thyroid disorders require different testing, there are several types of FNAC tests available. Ultrasound-guided FNAC is the most common technique, as it helps the doctor to visualize the needle and to identify any masses or cysts. Image-guided FNAC enables the doctor to obtain a sample of cells from a specific area. Stereotactic FNAC can be used to collect a cell sample from the thyroid from a distance.

Risks and Benefits of FNAC

The FNAC procedure is generally considered a safe procedure. However, the risks associated with it include minor bleeding, pain, and infection. Fortunately, these risks are minimal and can be reduced with appropriate pre- and post-procedure care. The benefits of FNAC include the ability to detect many types of thyroid disorders quickly and accurately. It can also help to rule out certain types of cancer and can be used to identify the best course of treatment.

When is FNAC Needed?

FNAC of the thyroid may be recommended when a patient is suspected to have a disorder such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. It can also be used to diagnose hashimoto’s thyroiditis, goiter, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. Additionally, it may be used to monitor already-diagnosed thyroid disorders to watch for any changes or progression.