Ultrasound of thyroid, parathyroid glands and neck lymph nodes
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In the past 15 years high-frequency B-mode sonography and colour–power Doppler have become the most important and most widely employed imaging modalities for the study of the neck, in particular for thyroid gland, parathyroids and lymph nodes. Sonography allows not only the detection but often also the characterization of the diseases of these organs, distinguishing benign from malignant lesions with high sensitivity and specificity, which could be further improved by the employ of ultrasound contrast agents and harmonic imaging. Although no single sonographic criterion is specific for benign or malignant nature of the lesions, the combination of different signs can be markedly helpful to speed up the diagnostic process. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) remains the most accurate modality for the definitive assessment of thyroid gland nodules and of any doubtful case of nodal disease. In association with clinical findings and serum levels of parathormone, FNAB has specificity close to 100% for the characterization of parathyroid adenomas. A combined approach with sonography and FNAB is generally highly effective.
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