What is the Thyroid?Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the front of the neck. In most people it is not visible unless it becomes enlarged. The thyroid gland produces hormones that control the growth and development of all the body’s tissues. If the thyroid gland is either under or overactive, it can create health problems.



Common Thyroid Disorders

Hypothyroidism  (click for more information)

Hyperthyroidism  (click for more information)

Diagnosis of Thyroid Problems

The most common tests done to identify thyroid problems include the following:

  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) – This test will show the content of a thyroid nodule.
  • Thyroid ultrasound assessment – This test will show if your thyroid is the normal size.
  • CT scan – This scan will show if your thyroid is the normal size.
  • Blood and urine analysis – These tests check to see if the hormone levels in your system are too high or too low.Thyroid_large

Your doctor will determine which tests you will need to have. Not everybody needs all of the tests.

Your physician will also want to know a bit about your health history and that of your immediate family. Some questions you may be asked include:

  • Do you have family members with thyroid cancer?
  • Have been exposed to radiation?
  • Have noticed a change in your voice?

Many people have thyroid nodules yet very few are cancerous.  Sometimes an enlarged gland will need to be removed before the doctor can say whether or not it is cancer.  All cancerous nodules must be removed surgically.


Surgery for thyroid disorders is typically done for three reasons:

  • Thyroid nodule (a growth on the thyroid)
  • Thyroid cancer (a growth that is proven as cancer)
  • An overfunctioning gland (Graves’ disease)

These are the thyroid conditions that are treated at the Northern Alberta Endocrine Surgery Centre: