The thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, produces hormones needed for almost all metabolic processes in your body. As you age, the chances of developing thyroid disease increases by 20 to 30 percent. While it affects more women, men also are at risk.
Difficulties with the thyroid can range from an enlarged gland called a goiter to life-threatening cancer. However, the most common types of thyroid disease fall into two categories:
• Hyperthyroidism – Overproduction of thyroid hormones that leads to conditions like Graves disease, nodules in the gland, temporary inflammatory conditions and certain cancers.
• Hypothyroidism – Stemming from an underproduction of thyroid hormones, this results in conditions like
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the thyroid. Certain medications, exposure to environmental elements and surgical removal of the thyroid also result in hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of thyroid disease may include fatigue, weight gain, acne, hair loss and trouble swallowing. While the condition is common, it often goes undiagnosed and can lead to more serious health concerns like high cholesterol, heart disease, low energy and an overall decreased quality of life.
To screen for thyroid disease, Dr. Mazza typically orders blood work and conducts and ultrasound in the office. If an ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA), or biopsy, is needed, she has the ability to perform that in the office, eliminating the need to travel to another facility. Dr. Mazza also offers a unique service for appropriate patients known as ethanol ablation (EA) of thyroid nodules.
When may a thyroid biopsy be indicated?
Ultrasound-guided FNA biopsies are usually performed for nodules that are a certain size or have suspicious characteristics that can be seen under ultrasound. The goal of this procedure is to identify persons who may be at risk for thyroid cancer so that they may be treated as quickly as possible.
What is ethanol ablation?
EA is a procedure that is a non-surgical option for some persons with nodules. It involves injecting dehydrated alcohol in a thyroid nodule under ultrasound guidance. EA can help decrease the size of a nodule and avoid surgery in certain circumstances.
Once the exact condition is pinpointed, there are a variety of medications that will help fine tune the thyroid level. While thyroid disease is a life-long condition, most cases are very treatable and manageable.