In decades past, patients had to undergo thyroid surgery any time they were diagnosed with any kind of thyroid nodule that provided inconclusive biopsy results. This led to many unnecessary surgeries, as benign thyroid nodules do not typically need to be removed at all. Today’s medical technology substantially cuts down on unnecessary surgeries, primarily through improvements to thyroid testing in Lancaster, PA. Genetic testing in the form of fine needle aspiration testing is a simple way to tell if a thyroid nodule is benign or cancerous. It can help inform a patient’s doctors so that, together, they can come up with an appropriate monitoring or treatment plan.
Fine needle aspiration, or FNA, testing can be performed right in a doctor’s office using only local anesthesia. A medical professional will use an ultrasound to determine the location of the thyroid. A small needle will then be inserted to collect cells for a biopsy and genetic testing. The samples must be sent out to a specialist for examination, and it can take a few days to get results. However, if the results are inconclusive, additional tests can be performed using the cells already removed during the original procedure. This prevents the need for additional procedures.
When additional testing is required, it usually involves genetic analysis. Researchers have pinpointed the genes responsible for controlling a patient’s risk of developing thyroid cancer. Knowing whether or not a patient is at elevated risk can help determine how likely it is that the nodules are malignant. If they are, the patient will still require thyroid surgery. If the nodules are benign, an unnecessary thyroid removal surgery will have been avoided. Most insurance plans cover the procedure, including Medicare. However, those patients whose insurance does not cover FNA testing need not panic. It will only cost $300 or less out of pocket.
Only a specialist can perform these kinds of outpatient procedures and, unfortunately, most medical practices in the area do not offer fine needle aspiration testing. In fact, there is only one office in all of Lancaster County that does. Visit for more information about thyroid testing in Lancaster, PA and the local otolaryngologists and other medical professionals who can help.