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

Responses: 84

By

Updated May 11, 2011

What should a thyroid patient expect before, during and after the thyroid biopsy procedure known as fine needle aspiration, or FNA? What about a thyroid sugery? What is it like, first-hand from thyroid patients who've been through it? Share your story about FNA and/or thyroid surgery, and read other thyroid patients' accounts of their own experiences with thyroid biopsy or thyroidectomy. Share Your Story

Rhonda in AL

My education in thyroid cancer was a crash course. Was fine in August of 2011, had a full physical with blood work done. Everything was normal other than my glucose and cholesterol (I'm type II, both were slightly elevated). Went to see my family doctor in October for strep. He was very concerned about the large visible lump on my neck. He referred me to an ENT. After an ultrasound, had a hemi done on January 13, 2012. Biopsy report confirmed papillary carcinoma and follicular variant, metastatic disease to 2 lymph nodes, AND ectopic thyroid tissue. FNA went very smoothly, itself was painless & only slight bruising. Ice pack next day worked wonders. Second half was removed in April 2012 along with compartmental lymph nodes. There was additional cancer in 2nd half of my thyroid and in 3 out of 7 lymph nodes. Second surgeon at UAB was great! Very little scarring and 6 weeks out neck felt good, no movement restriction or tightness. Still getting medications right and facing I-131, but hoping for a good outcome.
—Guest Rhonda in Alabama

Biopsy

Last week I had an ultrasound guided, fine needle biopsy and then a core biopsy. Of 4 nodules, one is considered significant. They used a local anesthesia. The doctor started with the fine needle; I felt a lot of pushing and pressure. Occasionally, it felt like something was actually poking the inside of my throat, which was much more uncomfortable and unexpected. The surgeon waited while the sample was sent to the lab which didn't like it (the surgeon guessed that there was probably too much blood in the sample since there are a lot of vessels around that nodule). So after more lidocaine, she did two core biopsies. The core biopsy involved more pressure, and made a small popping sound, which she warned me about ahead of time. (The biopsy showed follicular cells, and is inconclusive without a thyroidectomy.) The whole thing was definitely uncomfortable, but nothing to dread if you need this procedure. My neck was a little swollen afterward, but now is only a little tender.
—VirginiaVA

Fine Needle Biopsy

I just had a fine needle biopsy on May 22, 2012. I tried to have it done the week before without sedation, but that did not work out. The doctor numbed the area, but I still felt it and I felt the needle hitting my adams apple. It was just very uncomfortable feeling. The problem I am having now is that it has been three days and I don't have any pain, but I've lost my voice. I don't know what happened I am trying to find out now. I don't think you should be afraid to ask to be sedated. There are too many things that could go wrong in that area if you move especially your voice. Good luck all!
—Guest espresso0003

FNA

I am scheduled for an FNA this Thursday after reading this blog I am very uneasy! I hope not all FNA's could have been so terrible.
—Guest Jdahleo

Ultrasound Guided FNA Without Anesthesia

A little over a year ago I was in a car accident with trauma to my neck. During after the MRI, I was told that there was a mass on my thyroid that I needed to get checked out. I went the regular route, first an ultrasound, which confirmed cold nodules and was then sent for an ultrasound guided FNA. Thanks to the internet I was able to watch an actual FNA and was able to research which local anesthetics are used. Since I have had reactions to some local anesthetics (can't do any of the ...cains), I opted to have my FNA done without anesthesia. It really wasn't that bad. I felt a small prick, less then when I have had blodwork done. My doctor took several samples and the whole thing was over in no time. Afterwards, my thoat felt sore for a couple of days, but I did not have any other side effects. The FNA confimed papillary cancer. If I had to do it over again I would go the same route that I did.
—Guest Lisa S

My First Biopsy

I just had my first biopsy on the left side of my thyroid. My endocrinologist, after many tests and scans found 3 nodules, 2 of which were significant. She suggested I get the 2 biopsied. I really freaked myself out by reading the stories on this site. I was expecting the biopsy to hurt, but surprisingly it was very easy. I went to Englewood Hospital in NJ. The 3 people in the room were very sweet and they talked me through it. They calmed me down and got to work. The whole procedure, ultra sound, biopsy and quick results took about 35-40 minutes. The tests came back as being benign, Thank God! I'll be seeing my endocrinologist in the next few weeks. =)
—Guest Jessica F

Thyroid Pain Getting Worse

I am two weeks out from surgery and the pain is getting way worse. The pain is in the whole neck not just the area of nodules. I wonder if is this is something that may change the process or if I may face more surgery. I have a high pain threshold, but this pain seems to always hurt and I don't know if there is anything I can do for it. I try hot and cold compresses on my area of pain, but nothing helps for more than a few minutes.
—Guest John

Thyroid Biopsy

I had a fine needle aspiration with guided ultrasound yesterday. My doctor numbed the area with lidocaine saying this was the secret to a painless procedure: lots of lidocaine. The lidocaine stung for just a second. No worse than getting a shot of novocaine by the dentist. Inserting the needle was painless and he jiggled it about a bit explaining this was so he could get more cells. That didn't bother me. After 3 pokes he had the pathologist check and they decided to get two more samples. More lidocaine and two more sticks. However, this time I felt something like he hit a dense spot and I started to feel funny, dizzy, warm and nauseated. There wasn't any pain at all, just feeling odd. I told him and he immediately lifted up my legs. This is a vasovagal response and not uncommon for me. After 5 minutes, I felt better but he ordered some IV fluids anyway. I had an achy neck yesterday, hurt to laugh, cough and swallow so I kept ice on it and took ibuprofen. Today it feels almost normal.
—Guest Violet

Awaiting Surgery

I am awaiting thyroid surgery in a month. I went on the web to read guest responses. Now, I'm really scared. I'm 78 years old with an overactive thyroid. It sounds like all problems happen after surgery. I would like positive feedback from people who have completed surgery. I'm also scared about not having enough calcium. I need immediate feed-back to help my mind.
—Guest Diane, California

Everyone's Different!

I think everyone's FNA experience was probably different depending on how large a person they are, how large and dense their thyroid is/was and the size of the nodules and how deep they are/were. My FNA was extremely uncomfortable, left me bruised for 2 weeks and was inconclusive. I still have to have a TT in a couple weeks. I agree with those who advise to go to your happy place in order to relax. If you tighten up, it will be worse. Good Luck!
—nvwilliams

Step 3 Ahead

I have had the ultrasound and fine needle aspiration, Neither caused any lasting pain at all, but due to possible traces of cancer in tests I am about to lose half my thyroid. As of the last few months, my other side is begining to hurt. I am unsure, but I don't think anyone could have thyroid cancer and I wonder if dealing with it is as easy as a few iodine treatments.
—Guest John

Thyroid Surgery Soon

I am going to have thyroid surgery soon and I am really worrying about it. My fear is that after surgery I will not be able to swallow. My fear is I will be numb and will not know I am swallowing. I worry that my throat will be so sore it will hurt too badly to bare.
—Guest Ruthie frm L,A.

Thyroidectomy

I had nodules for about 7 years. An endcrinologist didn't do a biopsy for awhile because she said 'thyroid cancer grows slowly' I finally had 4 biopsies, the 4th showed cancer. The huge nodule was producing hormones along with my thyroid. I had one of the best surgeons in Pittsburgh. I had cancer in the nodule and thyroid, so she took everything. My parathyroid glands were damaged and do not produce cancium anymore. My throat felt okay about a month later. It is still tender and it has been a year (January 28, 2011). I have had nothing but problems with my calcium, my glucose and my insulin levels are crazy. I have problems with my kidneys and I think it's because I take 36 pills a day! I had many problems with leg cramps (lack of calcium) and then I had a bone infection! Now, I was just diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory demyelinating polyneuritis. It is past my knees already in just about 6-7 months time. My doctor is trying to decide which treatment my insurance will cover. I have had nothing but problems since surgery.
—kprenatti

Total Thyroidectomy

I had my surgery 9 days ago and am thrilled with how well it has gone. I had an extremely large goiter that was near my ear at the top and against my heart at the bottom. My surgeon was able to remove my thyroid without splitting my sternum. I woke up in the recovery room feeling great (relatively speaking) and each day made tremendous improvements. I still have some tenderness in my neck and chest but for the most part I am now pain free. The only issue I have left is I am still pretty weak, but each day that gets better.
—Guest Jim

FNA Experience

I had my procedure done about one ago. It went really well... a little uncomfortable. I had to get four sticks, two per nodule, on each lobe of my thyroid. It took less than ten minutes and the doctor talked me all the way through it. He got really good samples and in one week I received my results as promised. My throat is dry and it's still hard to eat, but it may be do to other reasons. I am not sure.
—Guest hb

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Thyroid Patients' Experiences with Thyroid Surgery and FNA Biopsy

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