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Readers Respond: Thyroid Patients' Experiences with Thyroid Surgery and FNA Biopsy

Responses: 84


Updated May 11, 2011

Thyroid Nodule Biopsy

I had a thyroid biopsy for a nodule with a calcification in it. I was really worried about the procedure from some of the things I had read on the internet but it was done in my doctors office by him and was over with really quickly and no more pain than the stick from a blood test. Just went in and laid down on the table, very simple. It was sonogram guided and the pressure from the wand was more than the needle. Didn't even need a bandaid when it was over. Took maybe 15 minutes total. No numbing at all. He would do a "stick" then put the cells on a slide and look at them to make sure he had in it what he wanted. That was what took the longest him looking at the slides on the microscope. The "stick" was over with pretty quickly really. Usually they do 3 but he didn't feel he had good ones so he did one more. Wouldn't worry about having this procedure again. Took a week to get the results and everything was benign thank goodness.
—Guest Guest Joyce

FNB & CA & Surgery/Hashimotos

I had secondary stage Papillary CA in 2002/FNB caused major swelling. The surgery was 10 days after the FNB. The surgeon was an upper respiratory surgeon,not a thyroid specialist. I would have shown or told him about the swollen neck, since the FNB but he did not come in to see me before he operated. An Anesthesiologist and an intern came in. I should have told them but did not. After the surgery took at least a half hour longer than anticipated, the surgeon came in told me"You have the Hashimotos condition which caused a lot of swelling so it took longer than I told you it would take. Well if he had taken a blood test before the surgery or had let me show him my neck swelling he probably would have known as I would have shown him the swelling. I later learned about a blood test he could have done. Apparently he did not know about the blood test. He said you had Leucocytes or Lymphocyes caused swelling, but he had not checked it out before hand, thyroid specialists do.

FNA experience and surgery

I had a FNA today on the left side of my thyroid. This isn't new to me, I've had several FNA's over 5-6 years due to several cold nodules. Then the nodules on my right thyroid started to change and I had the right side of my thyroid removed. Luckily it was benign. I have continued to see my endocrinologist and had another radioactive iodine scan series done and it was discovered that I now have cold nodules on the remaining left side. I've had FNA's with lidocaine and without and I think they feel about the same. The lidocaine does not numb deep enough so you can still feel the 'digging' to get cells (reminds me of liposuction if you've ever seen that). There is also a referred pain that radiates to your shoulder. It used to be my right shoulder with my right thyroid, now it's my left because it's my left thyroid. I'm sore. I will probably bruise. Luckily it doesn't take too long, I think I had 5-6 passes done and hopefully he got enough thyroid tissue to come up with a diagnosis.
—Guest Keli

FNA experience

I had two FNAs and they seriously were not painful in the least. They froze the area first, and the whole thing took maybe 20 mins. these were under ultrasound.
—Guest rbielskis

FNA Biopsy/thyroidectomy/voiceboxPT2

Surgery went well. I picked one of the best Docs on the east coast. He explained how they protect the nerve/voice box . I am a performer..so that makes it even more important to me. He assured me that they protect the nerve. The first surgery went well. In recovery I pulled out my oxygen tube. They had to do a second surgery because the nurse in recovery saw my neck swelling up. There was a cut in my of my veins. It was repaired and they had to put in a drain to make sure all the excess blood was elimated. This is unusal. After 2 months plus I have hoarse voice mostly in the morning and at night. I have a tired voice also. I am going to my Endocrinologist in a week and I hope and pray that there is no damage. Any suggestions or comments would be greatly apprecited.
—Guest Maryann Polka

FNA Biopsy/Thyroidectomy/Voice Box Part1

The needle biopsy is a very, very, very necessary move for all patients with goiters. I dealt with mine for 8 years. Between the 7th and 8th year one of the nodules enlarged by 85%. I bled each time they TRIED to get some cells from the nodules. It was never enough. Finally they suggested surgery. I went to the best hospital in Philadelphia. I asked many questions, and because I had 8 years experience I knew when to stop procastinating and listen to the Doctors. What triggered my final thoughts on the surgery was when the Endocrinologist told me when I questioned him that there were two small spots on the biggest nodule. THIS WAS DIFFERENT INFORMATION THEN WHAT I HAD HEARD IN THE PAST. I also asked how would they suspect cancer is that an indication??? He said when the spots light up that is a clue. I knew then that there was a bigger possibility of cancer and started to look for a surgeon. I will continue in another response.
—Guest maryann polka


I had an ultrasound guided needle biopsy due to multiple nodules on both sides of my thyroid gland. It was HORRIBLE! Lidocaine was used but the nodules were very deep. I could feel the doctor digging and sweeping around the needle which was extremely painful. In the end they weren't able to get even one sample. I have been having yearly ultrasounds to monitor the size of the nodules but I still don't know what they are.
—Guest aer

FNA Experience

I guess I was lucky. My doctor gave me a cream to put on my neck 30 min before i went into the office for the FNA. This numbed the area and the pokes while i could still feel them weren't painful. I did experience some soreness the following day and a small bruise 2 days later but that is it. I am having the whole thyroid removed next week. Seems mine is very large and will require a longer incision than most. I hope it heals well.
—Guest pamintx

Ultrasound Guided FNA

I am an ultrasound tech and assist in many guided thyroid FNA's. I have also had one myself, followed by a thyroidectomy for papillary thyroid carcinoma. Everyone has a different experience with a FNA. It depends on the type of nodule, where it is, whether it is easy to get to, and the M.D. performing the exam. I recommend having it done by a radiologist, and if it were me, I would call ahead to the ultrasound department and get their opinion on which radiologist they would recommend. They are all very qualified, however some are much more gentle and simply better at it. I do recommend having lidocaine prior to the procedure because although it stings, you may have 6-9 different pokes.
—Guest Ultrasound guieded FNA

FNA Experience and Hemi-thyroidectomy

I have had thyroid issues since my pregnancy in 2003. Goiter first, then treatment then I went underactive. I have had 3 FNAs and each one was worse than the one before. First one not so bad, 5 needles, no lidocaine. Second one, a little worse and still no lidocaine. Third one, horrendous, 4 or 5 needles and had lidocaine which really didn't make a difference. As it happened the nodule had calcified and the Dr. said that " it was like trying to put a needle thru rock." I told my endocrinologist no more FNAs. The last "attempt" they coldn't get a sample so the DR. suggested a hemi-thyroidectomy. if this was cancerous then they would go back a second time and take the rest. Had surgery in October 2008, I wasn't even in the hospital for a 24 hour period. Surgery wasn't too bad, didn't sleep that night in the hospital, had some pain meds and out the next day. Also you really have to look for my scar to know its there.
—Guest Thyroid issues

FNA Biopsy

I'm very surprised at the comments about horrible FNAs. I went to an endocrinologist to evaluate a nodule. I had waited 3 months for that appointment and was frustrated I had to wait again for the biopsy. It takes an hour and a half to get to that office. So I asked if radiology had any openings that day. They did it that day - no planning - nobody with me. I had read about it and didn't expect it to be bad. I found it wasn't. Mildly uncomfortable when wiggling the needle around. But not painful. Mine was done with ultrasound. So there was the doc who did the needle. Also present were the ultrasound tech, and the pathologist to check that they got sufficient cells to minimize the chance of an ineffective draw . They explained everything, told me it could take two or three tries (only took 2), numbed my neck and did the biopsy. I only felt slightly sore like a small bruise the next day but my skin wasn't actually bruised. I went to USC health science campus.
—Guest FNA


I'm 20 and had a near-total thyroidectomy at the end of February. After the operation, I woke up with a very hoarse voice that was barely a whisper, but luckily now (1st June) my voice has completely recovered and I can continue singing (which I study). I remained in hospital for 5 days after my operation and had a drain next to the scar which was removed after 2 days. This was not painful. I also stopped taking morphine around this time with no additional pain that codine couldn't handle. The only hitch in my procedure was that my calcium gland was damaged and I've spent a lot of time in and out of hospital receiving calcium chloride drips and my calcium levels keep jumping around. My scar was stiched on the inside and glued at the front. I have minimal scarring and it is hardly noticable, although I don't mind it being there.
—Guest Holly

Thyroid FNA

I have had several and the experience each time has been very painful. The doctor told me before I had my first one that it would not hurt. Having 9 needles stuck randomly into your neck does hurt. Because he had told me it did not hurt, I had gone by myself and had to drive myself back to work. The girls I worked with took one look at me when I got back and sent me home. The doctor now prescribes anti-anxiety pills for me to take prior to ever having this procedure done again.
—Guest Kim

Hair Loss Caused by Thyroid Meds

I'm suffering from hypothyroid for the last 6 months. I am badly frustrated from my disease because i have lost my hair, about one third . I have taken Thyroxine as the doctor advised. I have taken so many multi vitamins like Keraglo ,Fallihair, but there is no change. I'm applying vitamin shampoos ,lotions, the hair loss remains. I am concerned on what to do. I'm just 30 yrs old. I feel really bad and embarrassed.
—Guest anita

Botched FNA

I had a fine needle biopsy procedure performed on cold spot nodules on my thyroid. It resulted in no thyroid tissue extracted and a lot of pain during the procedure. I ended up having to go to a surgeon for a closer look that ended in a partial thyroidectomy. I will never know if it was botched or why no thyroid tissue was extracted. I will always remember how much it hurt and how scary and ordeal it was.
—Guest lynnbarry

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Thyroid Patients' Experiences with Thyroid Surgery and FNA Biopsy

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