Ultrasound Does a Great Job
The thyroid gland is an amazing, delicate and very important organ found in the neck, usually just below the Adam’s Apple. Wrapped around the trachea (windpipe), this butterfly-shaped gland secretes hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism and keep the brain, heart, muscles and other organs working properly.
As with other organs in our body, the thyroid sometimes develops unusual growths or doesn’t function normally. Abnormal growths called nodules, which sometimes develop on the thyroid, are actually quite common. They occur in about 15 to 70 percent of all adults, depending upon age, and more than 90 percent are non-cancerous. These nodules are often accidentally discovered when a patient is having an imaging exam such as a CT, PET or MRI, or by “palpation,” when a physician (or patient) actually feels them by touching the neck.
In Medical Imaging
The field of nuclear medicine is used every day, including right here in Flagstaff, to help diagnose and treat various illnesses and health problems. Nuclear medicine might seem a bit scary to those not familiar with this area of medical care; however, there have been amazing medical advances achieved in this field by working with controlled, low doses of radioactive substances.
At Northern Arizona Radiology, specially trained physicians (radiologists) work with imaging technology such as X-rays and nuclear imaging to get a better look at what’s really going on inside a patient’s body. Unlike X-rays, which are basically images of the body from the outside looking in (X-rays passing through the body from an outside source), nuclear imaging views part of the body from the inside looking out, with imaging equipment outside the body picking up traces of radioactive substances from inside the body.
Seeing is Believing
The X-ray, also known as a radiograph, is the oldest and most common form of medical imaging. X-rays are a form of radiation (ionizing) that passes through the human body and strikes a detector that either exposes a film or sends the resulting image to a computer.
Millions of X-rays are performed each year in the U. S. to help diagnose a variety of conditions. The conventional X-ray exam is called radiography and is defined by RadiologyInfo.org as “the examination of any part of the body for diagnostic purposes by means of x-rays with the findings usually recorded digitally or on film.”
The discovery of the X-ray in 1895 by physics professor Wilhelm Roentgen was truly a breakthrough in medical science, enabling humans for the first time to see inside the living human body.