Ultrasound is primarily used for evaluating the thyroid gland which is located in the lower aspect of the front of the neck. Ultrasound is beneficial as it is easily accessible and does not use ionizing radiation. The patient is lying on his/her back and clear gel will be placed on the area of interest. A “probe” connected to a computer is then used to image the area. This may be performed by a trained technician and/or the physician.
There are certain conditions which can cause an enlarged thyroid, also known as a goiter. Imaging may be performed to evaluate a goiter and also for nodules or masses within the thyroid. It can also be used as a guide for biopsy in certain cases as well.
Ultrasound can be used to evaluate the parathyroid glands, four separate glands usually located above and below the thyroid gland. This is performed for suspected cases of a parathyroid adenoma or for abnormal location of a parathyroid gland.
Lymph nodes in the neck can also be imaged with ultrasound. This can be done in cases of enlarged nodes causing a neck mass or in monitoring size of lymph nodes in patients with certain types of cancer.