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Thyroid Excisional Biopsy


The thyroid is an endocrine gland located in front of the trachea (windpipe) in the neck. In an excisional biopsy, a section of thyroid tissue is removed for diagnostic examination.

Alternative Names

Open thyroid biopsy; Thyroid biopsy - open

How the test is performed

This procedure is performed in a hospital operating room using general anesthesia, so you are unconscious and pain-free. A small incision is made in your neck. A section of your thyroid containing any suspicious growth or lump is removed.

The thyroid tissue is sent to the laboratory to be examined while you are still on the operating table. The results of this analysis determine if additional thyroid tissue should be removed.

The incision is then closed.

How to prepare for the test

Inform the doctor of any drug allergies you have, which medications you are taking (including any herbal remedies), if you have bleeding problems, and if you are pregnant.

How the test will feel

When you wake up after the procedure, you will feel drowsy for several hours. You may have a mild sore throat from the tube that was placed in your throat. There will be some discomfort at the biopsy site.

Why the test is performed

This test is usually performed to determine the cause of a mass, growth, or tumor in your thyroid gland. This test may be used when a diagnosis cannot be made using fine needle aspiration.

What abnormal results mean

The test may be used to help identify a variety of thyroid-related diseases, noncancerous tumors, or thyroid cancer.

What the risks are

The main risk is bleeding into or around the thyroid gland. If severe, emergency drainage may be required to prevent your airway from becoming blocked. Rarely, injury to the nerves of the vocal cords can occur. Injury to the parathyroid glands may also occur, which may cause problems in calcium metabolism.

Review Date: 12/22/2004

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Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.