Beware of Physicians Ordering a Routine or Screening Thyroid Ultrasound.
If you came from an iodine deficient country, even if you have no clinical indication of thyroid disease studies show a high rate of goiter and nodules. Germany 17% of 635 “normals” had goiters, and 68 % had nodules. These were not all suspect cancers and found without a clinical indication on screening Ultrasound could have lead to unnecessary thyroid surgery.
If you are native born US citizen with normal iodine intake the numbers are different. Framingham study in “normals” 1% had palpable goiters, but by ultrasound 3% of men over 60 and 36% of women aged 49-58 had nodules. These were not related to any clinical indication for ultrasound just research. Those patients today need to be alert not to have any screening or routine thyroid ultrsaounds, which could lead to unnecessary biopsy and surgery.
Comment: Grill the physician why he or she wants a thyroid ultrasound.Are there clinical indications? Felt a goiter,nodule,family history of thyroid disease or cancer? If not you should refuse to have the ultrasound. 36 % of females have nodules that may never grow or cause them any problem. However,once the ultrasound is done and nodules are found you can begin down the path to unncesasry biopsy and even surgery.