Thyroid ultrasound

Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2001 Jun;30(2):339-60, viii-ix. doi: 10.1016/s0889-8529(05)70190-0.


Evaluation of the thyroid gland can be performed by several imaging techniques. Although ultrasound (US) lacks specificity for tissue diagnosis and can rarely distinguish benign from malignant disease, it can distinguish solid nodules from simple and complex cysts. It allows accurate estimation of thyroid size, gives a rough estimate of tissue density (echogenicity), shows vascular flow and velocity (color-flow Doppler), can identify regional lymphadenopathy, and aids in the accurate placing of needles for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. In addition, it is widely available, relatively rapid and cheap, visualizes the whole anterior neck, and does not involve ionizing irradiation. This article aims at clarifying the role of US in clinical thyroidology by pointing to areas where the technology can aid in clinical decision making. It is argued that more clinician endocrinologists should master and use this technology for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Goiter / diagnostic imaging
  • Graves Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Diseases / therapy
  • Thyroid Gland / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Gland / embryology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Nodule / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroiditis / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal