Clinical versus ultrasound examination of the thyroid gland in common clinical practice

J Clin Ultrasound. 1992 Jan;20(1):37-42. doi: 10.1002/jcu.1870200107.


In a prospective series of 72 patients, clinical and ultrasonographic examination of the thyroid gland were compared in detail. Normal-sized lobes were differentiated from enlarged ones both by inspection and by palpation. When lobar size was assessed by palpation, the estimate was most clearly influenced by increase in width. The correlation between two examiners in lobe size assessment was significant. In the classification of thyroid disease as diffuse, solitary, or multinodular, clinical examination and ultrasonography correlated significantly. However, only one third of the clinically solitary nodules proved to be solitary by ultrasound examination. Of 77 separate nodules, 43 escaped detection on clinical examination. Of these 43, 14 nodules exceeded 2 cm in diameter. It is concluded that the use of ultrasonography frequently alters the primary evaluation of thyroid nodularity based on palpation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observer Variation
  • Palpation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thyroid Diseases / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroid Gland / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Ultrasonography