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Nodules: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment


What are nodules? Abnormal Swelling or Aggregation of Cells in the Body

A Nodule is an abnormal growth in tissue that creates for a skin distinct from its surroundings. Nodules can form just beneath the surface of the skin and can further move down deeper in skin tissues or internal organs. The thyroid gland is most likely to form nodules. Nodules are also often used to refer mushroomed lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy).

The fact is that doctors use nodules as a generic term to illustrate any lump below skin that’s at least 1cm in size. Though, it’s not an absolute identification. Rather, it’s used to convey across other skin specialists what they see.

Areas where nodules are most likely to develop include:

  • Head and neck
  • Armpits
  • Groin
  • Lungs on either side of the chest


What Causes the Most Common type of Nodule: Thyroid Nodule

Causes of Nodule: unsure but shed load

It’s not always quite clear as to why an individual gets thyroid nodules. Certain clinical conditions can cause them to develop which includes:

  • Thyroiditis: It is a chronic inflammatory condition of the thyroid. One kind of thyroiditis is called Hashimoto’s disease. It’s linked with low thyroid activity medically known as hypothyroidism.
  • Thyroid adenoma: An indeterminate growth of thyroid tissue overtly. Most adenomas are free of danger, but some produce thyroid hormone which causes an overactive thyroid medically known as hyperthyroidism.
  • Thyroid cancer: Not all thyroid nodules are cancerous, but some can be.
  • Thyroid cyst: This is generally incited by a thyroid adenoma that’s “degenerating”.
  • Lack of Iodine: A diet that is deficient of iodine can lead to thyroid nodules. This is quite common in Asian countries like India, since iodine is not much added to many foods.


Who’s high At Risk to Develop Nodule?

Thyroid nodules frequently materialize in people due to many reasons. Unfortunately, by the time we cross 60, half of all of us have them. They’re usually very small. You might only get to know you have a thyroid nodule when your doctor realizes one during a diagnosis or if you have an imaging study of your thyroid.

Still, few elements can stir up your chances of forming a thyroid nodule which includes:

  • Having a family history (immediate family) of thyroid nodules
  • Being younger than 30 years or older than 60years
  • Living in a part of the world where the diet lacks iodine


Do I Have a Thyroid Nodule? Spot it right to treat it upright

About 70% of the general population comes into assault of nodule. Though you may instantly be able to spot a nodule just by looking in the mirror. Face the mirror with the chin lifted a little. Gulp down and look for a lump on either side of your windpipe located near your Adam’s apple. Put your fingers compassionately on your neck in that location and feel for a bump. If you notice one, consult your specialist about it and have him/her check it. Your doctor might perform a physical examination and prescribe one of the following tests to identify if it’s predictive of cancer or not:

  • Blood test for thyroid hormones
  • Ultrasound
  • Fine-needle biopsy

Non-cancerous thyroid nodules though can be an issue as annoying if they grow too large and make it difficult for you to inhale or exhale.

Do Nodules Bear the Risk of Cancer? Reasoning & Relevance

Almost 90% of thyroid nodules are benign i.e., not cancer. A diagnostic approach that incorporates imaging studies, ultrasound and, when signaled, molecular testing, and fine-needle aspiration biopsy equips a personalized, risk-merit based convention that encourages high-quality care and reduces cost and irrelevant testing.

While examining a bump or nodule in your neck, one of the main motives of your doctor will be to rule out the likeliness of cancer. Though, your doctor will also want to learn if your thyroid is working accurately.

Tests include:

Diagnosis of Nodule to distinguish between benign and malignant Nodules

  • Physical exam: In the process, the doctor will check for signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as a dry skin, facial swelling and slow heartbeat, and signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as tremor, excessively active reflexes, and erratic or rapid heartbeat.
  • Ultrasonography: This imaging method executes high-frequency sound waves instead of radiation to produce images. It renders the most relevant information about the structure, size and shape of nodules. It may also be used to differentiate cysts from solid nodules or to identify if multiple nodules exist. It may also lead the way if there is a need to carry out a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.
  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: Nodules most commonly undergo biopsy to ensure no cancer is present. FNA biopsy allows differentiating between benign and malignant thyroid nodules. In the process, your doctor inserts a fine needle in the nodule and takes off a specimen of cells. The procedure, which is performed in your doctor’s office, takes about half n hour and has minimal risks. Often, your doctor will utilize ultrasound to pilot the placement of the needle. The specimen are then sent to a lab and examined under a microscope.
  • Thyroid scan: In some cases, doctor may suggest a thyroid scan to assess thyroid nodules. During the test, an isotope of radioactive iodine is dosed through injection into a vein in your arm to reach your thyroid gland. You then lie on a bench, exposed to a small amount of radiation while a specialized camera that generates an image of your thyroid on a computer screen. Nodules that produce too much thyroid hormone — called hot nodules— almost always noncancerous — appear on the scan since they absorb more of the isotope than ordinary thyroid tissue does. Nonfunctioning— called Cold nodules—show up as holes or deformity on the scan.

The drawback of a thyroid scan is that it is unable to differentiate between benign and malignant cold nodules.

Nodule Treatment & Management: How are thyroid nodules treated

Treatment of Nodule—Therapy as per Type

The most favorable Treatment option for nodule depends on the type of nodule you have. Following are the most appropriate plan of treatment for varied types of nodule and thyroid nodule:-

Benign nodules Treatment: Non-cancerous Nodule

Watchful waiting: No treatment type is the nodules are not cancerous. Identifying the magnitude of the nodule you and your doctor may mutually decide that there is no need for the breakout to be treated at this time. However, you will need to visit your doctor frequently in order to get checked for any changes in the nodules.

If a nodule isn’t cancerous but is bothering, there are a number of treatment options available i.e.:

  • Thyroid hormone suppression therapy: The therapy entails treating a benign nodule with levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, others), a fabricated form of thyroxine that you take orally in the form of pill. The concept is that delivering supplementary thyroid hormone will indicate the pituitary to produce less TSH, a hormone that triggers the growth of thyroid tissue. Though levothyroxine therapy sounds good as an idea but still is a matter of question. There are up till now clear scientific evidence that the therapy consistently contracts nodules.
  • Surgery: Sometimes, a nodule that’s evidently benign may need surgery, particularly if it’s so large that it makes it difficult to breathe or swallow. Surgery is also taken into account for people with enlarged multi-nodular goiters, especially when the goiters shrink airways, blood vessels or the esophagus. Nodules diagnosed as suspicious or nebulous by a biopsy also require surgical removal, so they can be assessed for signs of cancer.

Surgical techniques to remove pulmonary nodules include:

  • Thoracotomy: The surgical method is considered open lung surgery. An incision with a scalpel is made in the chest wall for the purpose to take off pieces of ailing/septic lung tissue. Patients generally have to stay in the hospital for a few days after the surgery. The mortality risk is low to lowest. When feasible, a mini-thoracotomy that is less invasive may be conducted.
  • Video-Assisted Thoracoscopy: This technique utilizes a thorascope, a malleable tube with a miniature camera on its end. The thorascope is inserted into the chest wall through a small cut. The camera enables the doctor to view an image of the nodule on a portable screen. This procedure needs a smaller cut and a shorter recovery time than a thoracotomy does.
  • Malignant Thyroid Nodules (Cancer) Treatment

Almost all thyroid nodules that are malignant or cancerous are treated by surgical procedure. Depending upon magnitude of malignancy of the nodule, the option is considered as per the expanse of thyroid surgery including complete elimination of the thyroid gland (total thyroidectomy) vs. elimination of half of the thyroid gland (thyroid lobectomy).

Surgical techniques to remove cancerous nodules nodules include usually involves:

  • Thyroidectomy: A frequently performed treatment for malignant nodules is surgical elimination, often accompanied with the majority of thyroid tissue — a procedure medically termed as near-total thyroidectomy. Danger associate with thyroid surgery include vandalism to the nerve that regulates your laryngeal nerve (vocal cords) and damage your parathyroid glands — four tiny glands situated on the back of your thyroid gland that help monitor the calcium levels in your blood stream. Therefore, only expert surgeons should be conducting thyroid surgery since the risk to the patients involves the nerves to the glands and voice boxes that regulate calcium are crucially higher in those that do not perform these kinds of surgery routinely. However, you need to know that after a thyroidectomy, you would necessitate lifelong treatment with levothyroxine to supplement your body with adequate amounts of thyroid hormone.
  • Alcohol ablation: Another viable option for care and control of certain small cancerous nodules is alcohol ablation. This procedure is beneficial to treat cancer that arises in areas that aren’t easily approachable during surgery. This treatment involves injecting a nominal amount of alcohol into the cancer contaminated thyroid nodule. Multiple treatment sessions may be needed.


Treating nodules that cause Hyperthyroidism

If a thyroid nodule is producing thyroid hormones, overburdening your thyroid glands usual levels of hormone production, your doctor may advise treating you for hyperthyroidism. This may consists of:

  • Anti-thyroid medications: Occasionally, your healthcare provider may recommend an anti-thyroid drug such as methimazole (Tapazole) to subside signs of hyperthyroidism. Treatment is usually long term and can have adverse side effects on your liver, so it’s essential to discuss the treatment’s threats and merits with your doctor in advance.
  • Radioactive iodine: Doctors most commonly use radioactive iodine therapy to treat multinodular goiters or hyperfunctioning adenomas. Taken in liquid form or a pill/capsule, radioactive iodine is sucked up by your thyroid gland which further causes the nodules to contract and symptoms of hyperthyroidism to weaken down, generally within 60 to 90 days.
  • Surgery: If treatment with anti-thyroid medications or radioactive iodine isn’t an option or has disappointed to render results in favor, you may clearly be a candidate for surgery to take off the overactive thyroid nodule. Surgery also bears conclusive risks that must be meticulously discussed with your doctor.


Prevention of Nodule- foresee to forbid

If you have see or feel a bumpy skin disorder, you can do the following to avert the development such as:

  • Quit smoking, and refrain from being in smoke-stacked spaces for long
  • Get treatment if you have hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, reflux, allergies, or sinusitis
  • Avoid excess consumption of alcohol
  • limit the caffeine intake
  • Avoid speaking loudly without ample vocal rest
  • Avoid too much talking if you have an upper respiratory infection.
  • Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated
  • Get a sound night’s sleep
  • Use a microphone and a humidifier in your home.
  • Warm up your voice before stretched speaking or singing
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Follow stress alleviation techniques, or meditation to reduce muscle tension.


Preparing for your appointment— mutual consultation on best medication

If you sense a thyroid nodule yourself — generally in the centre of your lower neck—see your health care provider for an appointment to assess the lump.

Once a thyroid nodule has been diagnosed— in a doctor’s examination or imaging such as MRI, CT scan or ultrasound, you will possibly be referred to an endocrinologist — a doctor who specializes in endocrine ailments.

To get the best from your appointment, try below suggestions:

  • Make sure to ask if you need to undergo diagnostic tests in advance
  • Note down all signs and symptoms and alteration you’re experiencing, even if they seem separated to your present problem.
  • Create a list of relevant medical information, including family history, all medications you’re taking, recent surgeries, and any other conditions for which you’ve been treated.
  • Make note of your personal medical history, including any history of thyroid disorders. Inform your doc of any exposure you have had to radiation, whether as a child or an adult.
  • Make note of questions to ask your doctor what treatment options are available for successful treatment of Nodule.

To get resolve all your queries and have a best treatment plan for your disorder, meet the best in profession Dr.Rohit Batra @ DermaWorld, Delhi.