Thyroid nodules: what are the dangers, causes, and treatment

The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and produces vital hormones. Therefore, its condition should be closely monitored, since this organ, like many others, is susceptible to a variety of diseases. The most common of these is thyroid nodules. These can be either nodular neoplasms themselves, or cystic-type formations, differences in their structure: in the first case, it is parenchymal – dense, in the second it is a cavity filled with colloid. Now we will analyze their origin and causes, and also give an answer to the question — what are the dangerous nodes on the thyroid gland?

What is it

Thyroid nodules are capsule-limited pathological neoplasms that have a parenchymal structure. In the process of development, they can pass into cysts and back.

Interestingly, such changes in the thyroid gland may not appear for quite a long time, until they reach a sufficiently large size. Then they begin to squeeze the organs or tissues located in the immediate vicinity of the gland. In addition, such nodes can malignize, that is, turn into a malignant cancer.

Nodular changes in the thyroid gland tissue are found, according to scientists, in 10-15% of the adult population of the world, and, thus, this is one of the most common somatic diseases. Of course, in most patients, the nodes are not cancerous, but it is important to remember that such a transition is possible.

Diseases that can be signaled by the appearance of nodular neoplasms:

  1. Nodular colloidal goiter is a benign disease in which the growth of follicles, which make up the gland itself, and a large accumulation of colloid, which is filled with follicles, in a certain area.
  2. Cystic fibrotic adenoma is benign, but it is capable of malignancy. It is a gradually growing node of a round or oval shape, with a clearly defined capsule.
  3. A simple thyroid cyst, which is a capsule filled with colloidal fluid.
  4. Carcinoma, that is, a cancerous tumor.

Tellingly, such pathologies are most often manifested in women, and with age the probability of their occurrence only increases.

The reasons for the development of nodular neoplasms can be:

  • hereditary, genetic disposition to this disease;
  • nodules can begin to develop when the body does not receive enough iodine.;
  • effects of toxic substances on the body;
  • the effect of X-ray radiation on the body, which must be used for diagnosis.

Types of thyroid nodules

During diagnosis, it is very important to establish what the nature of a particular nodular neoplasm is. These can be:

  1. A homogeneous isoechoic node, which is diagnosed if its density is the same as that of the gland itself. At the same time, along the edges, you can detect the expansion of regional blood vessels and a serious increase in blood circulation.
  2. An inhomogeneous isoechoic node differs in its density and structure from the surrounding organ.
  3. A non-echogenic or hypoechoic node is diagnosed if the normal gland tissue is completely destroyed inside the capsule, and the rather dense contents are formed by dead cells and fluid.


As mentioned above, it is virtually impossible to detect a node at an early stage of its development, it does not manifest itself in any way. As long as the thyroid node remains small, it can only be detected by chance, during a routine examination, or in the case of diagnosing other diseases.

After the node grows to a size of 5 mm and above, it can be detected by palpation, although this is only possible if the node is located close to the surface. It feels different from normal gland tissue and does not shift when pressed.

According to statistics, a person goes to the doctor only after the neoplasm becomes visible to the naked eye, as it deforms the contour of the neck. In this case, the node usually reaches the size of three to four centimeters.

At this stage, the patient usually complains about:

  • severe neck pain;
  • tickling, lump in throat, difficulty swallowing;
  • respiratory failure, if the node compresses the larynx or trachea;
  • changing the voice timbre;
  • compaction of the cervical lymph nodes.

In some cases, the patient first shows symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

  • change in heart rate, sudden strong heartbeat, tachycardia, pressure spikes;
  • the patient suddenly and often throws in a fever;
  • nervous instability, attacks of aggression, followed by apathy or tearfulness;
  • eye protrusion;
  • increased appetite, which is accompanied by weight loss;
  • shortness of breath;
  • constant weakness, mild muscle fatigue.

All of these symptoms are manifestations of a thyroid nodule, and require diagnosis to determine the type of node and quality of treatment and dynamic diagnosis.


The main and most popular method of diagnosing a node in the thyroid gland is ultrasound diagnostics, which can be performed for a patient of any age, which is an important factor in its favor. During this study, determine the size and shape of the neoplasm, and, if possible, its type.

In the event that one node is found in the gland, then a fine — needle puncture biopsy is performed-a thin needle is inserted into the capsule, and fluid is taken from the node, which is sent for further research. However, the attending physician is able to make a primary diagnosis based on a visual assessment.

Another patient is prescribed laboratory tests, determine the level of hormones produced by the gland.

In addition, another study is being conducted — scintigraphy. This method consists in introducing radioactive isotopes of iodine, or technetium, into the patient’s body, after which the thyroid tissue is scanned. This diagnostic method allows you to determine such parameters as the nature of the nodular neoplasm, its activity. By conducting this study, you can also find out about the condition of the unaffected areas of the thyroid gland. In this diagnosis, the nodes are divided into cold, that is, they do not absorb radioactive isotopes, which often indicates cancer and requires an in-depth diagnosis, warm, absorbing the same amount of isotopes as the surrounding tissues, and hot, which absorb much more iodine or technetium than unaffected areas of the gland.

To clarify the type of node, you can also perform a computer or magnetic resonance imaging. Additionally, laryngoscopy and bronchoscopy are performed, and an X-ray examination using barium sulfate as a contrast agent is possible.


It is important to understand that the treatment of a patient depends on a variety of reasons, which include his age, the type and size of the node, the number of neoplasms, and general health.

For example, if the diagnosis reveals several nodes with a diameter of up to 1 cm, further dynamic monitoring and consultations with an endocrinologist are indicated, since it is necessary to monitor the further behavior of these neoplasms. The same thing happens in the case of a small single node.

Indications for surgical intervention are the growth of a neoplasm, or, in the case of a cyst, re-filling with colloid after the contents of the capsule have been pumped out. However, small cysts can also be treated conservatively, that is, inoperable. Endocrinologists usually prescribe iodine-containing medications and thyroid hormones. You should not be afraid of this, because hormonal treatment, despite the prevailing prejudices against it, does not harm the body. In many cases, it is impossible to do without it.

In the case of a thyroid abscess, antibiotics are prescribed, as well as therapy to detoxify the body. In general, the selection of drugs in this case is made directly based on the results of a complete study of the purulent contents of the node.

In the case of carcinoma, complete removal of the thyroid and parathyroid glands is performed, followed by the appointment of hormone replacement therapy and a course of rehabilitation.

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