What is the role of imaging studies in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer?

Updated: May 14, 2020
  • Author: Pramod K Sharma, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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The following imaging studies may be used to evaluate patients with suspected thyroid cancer:

  • Neck ultrasonography: Most common modality to evaluate thyroid disease; however, limited usefulness for distinguishing between malignant and benign nodules

  • Thyroid radioiodine imaging: To determine functional status of a nodule but cannot exclude carcinoma

  • Neck computed tomography (CT) scanning or magnetic resonance imaging (avoid iodinated contrast agents): To evaluate soft-tissue extension of large or suspicious thyroid masses into the neck, trachea, or esophagus, and to assess metastases to the cervical lymph nodes; no role in routine management of solitary thyroid nodules

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