In addition to traditional blood tests, ultrasound technology is commonly being used to diagnose and treat medical thyroid conditions. The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland that makes and sends various hormones directly into the bloodstream. It has a butterfly-like shape and is located beneath the Adam’s apple in the front of the neck. Ultrasound machine imaging is a noninvasive medical procedure that produces a real-time picture of the thyroid gland.
Ultrasound imaging technology is similar to the sonar that is used by bats, fisherman, and ships. When a sound wave targets an object, it bounces back. This echo that is produced then is able to determine specific information such as the shape, size, and consistency of the object.
Ultrasound machine scanners consist of a video monitor, a computer, and a transducer, which is a hand-held device that is attached to the scanner. The transducer produces high-frequency sound waves that penetrate the body and records the echoes that are returned from the body tissue. The ultrasound image is projected onto a video display screen immediately, and typically some of the moving pictures are captured in still images. Ultrasound imaging can be used to identify changes and abnormalities in tissues, organs, and vessels, and detect an abnormal mass or tumor.
Standard diagnostic ultrasounds do not pose any harmful risks to patients. Ultrasound imaging is easy to use, painless, inexpensive, and does not use ionizing radiation. Medical professionals have reported that ultrasound technology is an exceptional tool for guiding and performing minimally invasive procedures such as needle aspiration and biopsies. Ultrasound machines produce a clearer picture of soft tissues than x-ray images can provide. Ultrasounds are most commonly used to determine if the thyroid is functioning properly. However, it is not possible to determine whether the thyroid is overactive or underactive without a radioactive iodine or blood test.