Diagnosing Thyroid Conditions

Thyroid problems can be challenging to diagnose because many common symptoms could be attributed to other conditions. To determine whether you have thyroid disease, one or more of the following diagnostics may be performed or recommended:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor may feel your neck to determine if the thyroid is enlarged or if any growths have formed.
  • Blood tests: There are a number of blood tests that check the function of your thyroid gland. These include tests of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroxine (also called T4), Triiodothyronine (also called T3), antibodies, and thyroglobulin.
  • Radioactive iodine uptake test: This test involves a patient swallowing a small amount of radioactive iodine so that your doctor can measure how quickly the radioactivity is taken up by the thyroid gland. The rate of uptake indicates whether the gland is functioning normally.

Diagnosing Parathyroid Conditions

Your four parathyroid glands manufacture parathyroid hormone (PTH), which helps regulate healthy levels of calcium and phosphorous in the body. In order to diagnose conditions such as hyperparathyroidism or parathyroid hyperplasia, you doctor may use a number of tests, including the following:

  • Blood tests: Your doctor may check the levels of calcium, phosphorus, and parathyroid hormone (PTH) in your blood.
  • Urine test: This test may be ordered to detect abnormal levels of calcium in your urine.
  • Imaging tests: Additional tests such as bone x-rays and a bone density test may be performed to look for bone loss, softening, or fractures.