Having an ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration

Clinical Radiology

You have been advised to have an ultrasound guided Fine Needle Aspiration of your thyroid gland (FNA).

The thyroid gland is a vital hormone gland. It plays a major role in the metabolism, growth and development of the human body. It helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream.

Sometimes the thyroid gland becomes enlarged and becomes swollen/noticeable and so it may be necessary to do an FNA to try and find out the reason for this.

In order to do this procedure a fine needle is inserted through your skin into the thyroid gland which is located at the front of the base of your neck to remove some cells that can be sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Ultrasound guided FNA is generally considered a safe procedure, there is a small risk of bleeding where the needle has been inserted and you may experience  some discomfort.

The procedure

The person who is performing the procedure is a specially trained Doctor called a Radiologist. The Radiologist will explain the procedure to you, and allow you to ask any questions. There will also be a Registered Nurse or Healthcare Assistant with you at all times during the procedure.

You will remain awake for the procedure and local anaesthetic spray will be applied to the skin around the area from which the FNA will be taken.

You will be asked to wear eye protection while the local anaesthetic spray is applied, this is to protect your eyes.

A dressing will be applied to the FNA site once the procedure is finished and this can be removed  24 hours later.

You may develop a bruise over the FNA site and the area may become a little swollen, this discomfort can last up to 24 hours, if necessary you may feel you need to take your normal pain relief medication.

How long will the procedure last?

The procedure will take around 15 minutes, although you may be in the Clinical Radiology Department longer in order to complete necessary post procedure checks. 

When am I notified of the results?

The results will be sent to your Doctor, who will  discuss them with you at your next appointment.

You can eat and drink normally before and after this procedure.

When you get home you are advised to rest and take things easy for the first 24 hours. Avoid any strenuous exercise and heavy lifting.

If the wound bleeds apply pressure to the area using a clean towel or flannel for 10-15 minutes and rest.

How to contact us

For general enquires about your appointment

01709 426307

For enquiries about preparation for your examination, or to speak to a Radiology Nurse

01709 427086
You may reach an answering machine. Please leave your contact number, and the nurse will phone you back between the hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Having an ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration - patient information leaflet
Produced by The Clinical Radiology Department, December 2021.  
Revision due December 2023. Version: 1.0  
©The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust 2021. All rights reserved. 
Information has been taken from the Royal College of Radiologists.

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  • Page last reviewed: 15 February 2023
  • Next review due: 15 February 2024