Thyroid / Lymph Node Biopsy

A thyroid/lymph node biopsy is a minimally invasive and accurate procedure to determine if a thyroid nodule or lymph node contains cancer cells. We use ultrasound guidance to perform the biopsy, and the tissue sample is sent for examination to a specialized cyto/pathology lab with expertise in thyroid and lymph node cytology.

Patients experience little discomfort, and recovery time is significantly reduced compared to surgical biopsy. Our team of radiologists and technologists provide expert care in a comfortable environment, helping ease anxiety and stress.


Thyroid/lymph node biopsy is performed with ultrasound guidance. During the procedure, first images are taken to localize the thyroid nodule/lymph node in question. A local anesthetic is injected with a very fine needle to numb the skin and tissues beneath it. This will eliminate pain during the procedure, but you may feel some pressure. While visualizing the nodule/lymph node continuously by ultrasound a very fine needle (smaller than a needle generally used for a blood draw) is placed into the nodule/lymph node and cells are aspirated to ensure enough cells are aspirated the radiologist will advance the needle to the biopsy site several times. The tissue samples are sent to a lab for analysis by a cyto/pathologist. The radiologist who performs the biopsy or your referring physician will share the biopsy results with you usually within one week.

The actual biopsy takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

Yes. Our board-certified radiologists have extensive experience performing these biopsies, which have a very high accuracy rate. There may be some minimal bleeding at the biopsy site and there is an extremely small risk of infection. Serious complications are extremely rare. If any problem arises after your procedure, please contact the radiologist who performed the procedure. You will be given their contact information.

Preparing for Your Exam

Patient peace of mind starts with the right preparation. In addition to the written order from your physician, please bring any prior images or reports from outside Washington Radiology with you to your appointment, if related to the reason for your visit with us and if not already submitted.

Unless otherwise instructed at the time of scheduling, for five days before the biopsy avoid aspirin, aspirin-containing products, similar blood thinning products and anti-inflammatory medicines, such as Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin and Aleve.

If you are taking a blood thinner, such as Coumadin, check with your referring physician before your biopsy, as you may need to briefly discontinue use of this drug.

If you have any questions concerning whether you should continue taking a specific medication before your biopsy, please contact our office at least five days before your appointment date.

The day of your biopsy:

  • Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit.
  • You do not have to fast, in fact, we prefer you eat your meals like you normally do

If you have follow-up questions about the biopsy preparations, contact the Washington Radiology office where your exam is scheduled and ask to speak with the nurse or medical assistant who assists with biopsies.

Our Locations


Fairfax, VA


3022 Williams Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031

Chevy Chase, MD


4445 Willard Avenue
Suite 200
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Washington, DC


2141 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037

Bethesda: Mammo, DEXA, Ultrasound, XR


10215 Fernwood Road
Suite 103
Bethesda, MD 20817

Sterling, VA


21351 Ridgetop Circle
Sterling, VA 20166

Hagerstown, Trilogy II


1185 Imperial Drive
Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740