What Is a Hypoechoic Nodule
A hypoechoic Nodule is actually a solid mass filled with fluid, which casts weakened and limited echoes as compared to the tissues around it, while sonogram or ultrasound is being administered on a patient. During a sonogram, a radiologist look for particular attributes of these nodules, and these nodules are called hyperechoic and hypoechoic as per the shadow or “echo” these nodules cast. In general, benign thyroid nodules are more hyperechoic on a sonogram, whereas malignant thyroid nodules are typically hypoechoic. However, it cannot be said that hypoechoic nodules are cancerous, as the chances are very low.
Causes of hypoechoic nodules
The thyroid gland regulates metabolism in the body and in the process of metabolic regulation, two hormones that the thyroid gland produce are intricately involved. These are Thyroxine T4 and Triiodothyronine T3and when these hormones are fueled by iodine in one’s diet, it regulates many body systems. Even though there is no solid conclusion as to what results into these nodules, yet there are some common factors. These factors are :
- Diet that is deficient in iodine
- Some kind of autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto’s disease
- Genetics and radiation exposure
However, only in rare cases thyroid mass manifests as malignant hypoechoic nodules.
Symptoms and diagnosis
It is not necessary that those, who develops thyroid nodules will experience symptoms, but if the nodules expand in size it will become noticeable. Some of the other symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Heart arrhythmia
A number of tests have to be carried out for determining the composition of such nodules. These include ultrasound, imaging testing, and magnetic resonance imaging. Another method, which is used for determining whether hypoechoic nodule is malignant or not include Fine needle biopsy. This test is considered the most accurate, sensitive and cost-effective as well.
Those, who are diagnosed with malignant hypoechoic nodules, might have to go for treatment options like surgery, radiation therapies, hormone replacement therapy, and even chemotherapy. The approach of treatment is determined by the staging, size, and extent of such nodules and the condition of the patient. Normally, initial treatments for hypoechoic nodule that are malignant involve surgical removal of the affected lymph nodes and thyroid gland. After the removal, the patient might have to undergo hormone replacement therapy for compensating the hormone deficiency caused due to the surgery. Patients might also be administered radioactive iodine for eliminating left over thyroid tissues.
Complications related to hypoechoic nodules surgery
Just like any other kind of surgical procedures, removal of thyroid also involved some complications. The main risk associated with such surgery includes damage of surrounding glands and tissues, infection and nerve damage. Side effects are also common in patients who are administered radioactive iodine. These include dry mouth, nausea, and impaired smell or taste.