The neck area is composed of several organs, visceral, nervous and vascular elements, that can be the center of inflammations, infections or tumors.
Among them, the thyroid is a gland that plays a key role in the body metabolism. When it is dysfunctional, more or less severe consequences can occur to the organism.
Thyroid gland can grow abnormal tissue that forms thyroid nodules. These nodules can sometimes go with abnormal secretion of thyroid hormones.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shape gland located below Adam’s apple. It produces hormones which regulates body metabolism and our energy level by controlling the minimum level of energy required for the body to operate properly. Thyroid related issues are among the most frequently described medical conditions.
Thyroid nodules are masses which generally appear in a normal thyroid gland and usually measure less than 1cm. These abnormal tissue growths in the thyroid are often located on the edge of the thyroid gland, with the patient feeling like a mass in the throat. When they become large enough, or if the patient is thin, a mass can sometimes appear in the neck.
Thyroid nodules are benign in 95% of the cases. They are usually asymptomatic with no further consequences. Yet, it is important to visit a physician as soon as a palpable mass appears since 5% of the nodules can be cancerous. Several imaging methods, such as scintigraphy or ultrasound, are used to observe nodules.
There are several types of thyroid nodules: colloidal nodules, cysts, inflammatory nodules, adenomas and cancer of the thyroid. In some cases, nodules can produce thyroid hormones leading to hyperthyroidism and resulting in an increase in the metabolism associated with a weight loss, palpitations, sleep disorders, etc.
Diagnosis is established thanks to a blood test to control the thyroid hormone level.
Thyroid nodules are described in 5% of the population, and are more frequent in people with iodine intake deficiency, elderly people, and up to four times more frequent in female patients.
Treatment choice will depend on the type of nodule.
In case of benign nodule, without any associated symptoms, no treatment is recommended; a regular follow-up should be performed to monitor its state.
Nodules producing hormones and resulting in hyperthyroidism symptoms may be treated with radioactive iodine. Iodine comes in capsules or is supplied liquid, and is administered by oral route. In 80% of cases, this treatment leads to a permanent hyperthyroidism.
Finally, surgery is indicated to treat cancerous or suspicious nodules.