The New York Thyroid Center, with the Section of Endocrine Surgery at NYP/Columbia, now offers a streamlined way to evaluate thyroid nodules. Under the guidance of Kevin Parrack, MD, director of the Biopsy Clinic, the clinic features multidisciplinary collaboration to provide rapid on-site performance and evaluation of fine needle aspiration biopsies.
What is the thyroid biopsy clinic and how is it unique?
For many thyroid nodules, a fine needle biopsy is the most important step in making a diagnosis and developing a treatment plan. Typically, after a physician has identified a thyroid nodule by ultrasound, it can take weeks, if not months, for a patient to have a biopsy. However, the Biopsy Clinic at the New York Thyroid Center provides an efficient single-day process that eliminates the need for multiple visits.
At the new single-day clinic at NYP/Columbia, experts perform the ultrasound, decide whether the findings require a biopsy, and if so, do the biopsy. The team collaborates with an onsite cytopathologist (a pathologist who studies and diagnoses disease at the cellular level), who determines if an adequate sample was obtained during the biopsy or if another sample is needed. This immediate feedback may reduce the number of passes with the biopsy needle and saves the patient the possibility of repeat visits to obtain more samples. Results are typically available in one to two days.
“Our goal is to provide one-stop shopping for the patient,” says Dr. Parrack.
When does a thyroid nodule require biopsy?
After the ultrasound, a specialist will examine the size and characteristics of the nodule. If it is larger than a specific size or has suspicious features such as irregular margins, calcifications, or a solid consistency, the nodule may be deemed at risk for cancer and require biopsy.
Occasionally, a patient may not have a specific nodule, but may be experiencing symptoms such as severe pain or a rapidly enlarging thyroid. In these cases, biopsy may be suggested as well.
Fine needle aspiration, or FNA, is the test of choice for evaluation of thyroid nodules. The minimally invasive procedure extracts cells from the lesion for microscopic examination. During FNA, a tiny needle (smaller than those used to draw blood) is used to remove a sample of cells from the thyroid nodule, under ultrasound guidance. The procedure is highly accurate, fast, scar-free, and safe. Most patients report that it feels like a small pinch, and it does not usually require anesthesia. Safe for all ages, FNA is an outpatient procedure that requires no patient preparation and allows people to resume normal activity immediately.
How can I find out more about thyroid nodules and where to get evaluated?
Learn more about thyroid biopsies by tuning in to our BlogTalkRadio program “Thyroid Biopsy: What is it and when is it recommended” in honor of Thyroid Cancer Awareness month. On Tuesday, September 24th, at 3:30 PM/EST, you will have the opportunity to speak directly with Dr. Kevin Parrack and Dr. Salila Kurra, assistant professor of medicine at CUMC, about your questions and concerns. There is also more information at our website: www.columbiathyroidcenter.org.
How do I participate in this program? What will be discussed?
In addition to the above questions, topics to be discussed in this upcoming BlogTalkRadio episode include:
- Importance of early detection
- Risk factors for thyroid cancer
- FNA’s Bethesda classification system and interpreting results
- Thyroid cancer treatment options
- Thyroid cysts and follow-up
Then on September 24th, at 3:30pm/ET, log onto Columbia Surgery Blog Talk Radio Channel to listen to the show. If you’d like to speak to Dr. Parrack or Dr. Kurra live, call 347-539-5189 while we are on the air.
What if I am not available on September 24th?
For those who cannot attend the show, an on-demand version of the program will be available immediately after air-time. Be sure to follow our channel to listen to our growing library of health topics and to be updated on future episodes.
For more information about the thyroid biopsy clinic or to request an appointment, please visit columbiathyroidcenter.org or call 212-305-6969.
This article originally appeared on the Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog.