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Other Thyroid Pathologies

Benign Thyroid Nodules

Benign thyroid nodules are non-cancerous. These bumps are treated in 3 ways:

Patients with benign thyroid nodules are often followed (surveillance) without surgery. Ultrasounds of the thyroid are performed to monitor the thyroid nodule for growth, changes in characteristics and to assess for other abnormalities in the thyroid gland and neck. If the nodule demonstrates growth or suspicious changes, a biopsy may be warranted.

When a thyroid nodule is small, it often will not cause symptoms for the patient. At times, however, patients may experience discomfort or compressive symptoms due to the size of the nodule or the specific location of the nodule in the thyroid. In these cases, some form of treatment may be required. Surgery is one of the common ways to treat these nodules.

Alternative, less invasive techniques to treat benign thyroid nodules, do exist. This includes:

  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA): For cystic thyroid nodules (filled with fluid), the fluid may simply be aspirated with a needle. In many cases, however, the fluid re-accumulates. Some patients may still prefer repetitive aspirations over surgery.
  • Ultrasound-guided percutaneous ethanol therapy: Cystic thyroid nodules can also be treated by injecting certain agents into the bump. One such technique is the use of ethanol as an injecting agent to attempt to break down the nodule. This technique is performed at the ENT Specialty Group.

Graves’ Disease

Graves’ disease is an immune system disorder that leads to a hyperfunctioning thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). Patients with hyperthyroidism may experience weight loss, overheating, rapid heart rate or palpitations, anxiety and more frequent bowel movements. Patients with Graves’ disease may also have problems related the eyes “bulging out”, the orbits and the skin. At times, in this disease the thyroid gland may become enlarged, called a goiter. This may cause discomfort and obstructive symptoms (difficulty breathing or swallowing).

Common treatment options for Graves’ disease include:

  • Medication
  • Radioactive iodine
  • Surgery

Surgery is usually reserved for certain cases of Graves’ disease, including :

  • Large goiter (a very large thyroid gland)
  • Goiter causing obstructive symptoms
  • Exophthalmos (bulging out of the eyes)
  • Coexisting suspicious thyroid nodule
  • Allergy to medications that treat hyperthyroidism
  • Unable to receive radioactive iodine
  • Clinical reasons
  • Patient’s desire is to have surgery