what an fna biopsy is like

When I found out that I would need to have an FNA (fine needle aspiration) biopsy on my thyroid nodule, the first thing I did was try to find some personal stories. There are plenty of medical sites that document the procedure, but I’d hoped to find out what it was really like for someone. So I thought I’d write up what it was like for me, just in case anyone else is looking for that kind of information.

First off, although I have no fear of needles, the thought of having one poke my throat several times was incredibly nerve-wracking. I had two weeks to get myself used to the idea, but I’ll be honest — even though I knew what to expect, and the nurse had called before my appointment and gone through it all with me, I was still a little shakey in the waiting room. The good news is that the nervous anticipation was the worst part of the procedure.

The first thing I did was change out of my top and put a gown on. Some places don’t require this, but I appreciated the fact that no one wanted to get Betadine on my shirt :-) Then I went into the room and the nurse used the ultrasound to locate the nodule. This would make it easier once the doctor came in the room. She explained the whole procedure to me again and talked to me about her own thyroid issues (she had a total thyroidectomy, so she’d been through this particular procedure before). It was nice to relate to her on that level and it put me further at ease. I signed some paperwork while she got the doctor.

There were actually two doctors in the room during the procedure. One handled the biopsy itself, the other was making the slides. I never even saw the second doctor, heh! Anyway… the doctor who was performing the FNA introduced himself and asked if I had any questions (I didn’t). The pillow was adjusted so that it was positioned under my back and shoulders and my head was touching the bed/chair/whateveryoucallit. They complimented me on my “nice, long neck” which made me laugh, but apparently long necks make it easier on everyone so hey — glad I could do my part! My nodule is on the right side, so the doctor had me turn my head slightly to the left. After this I kept my eyes closed, but I couldn’t have really seen anything anyway.

The doctor then let me know that he was going to inject Lidocaine, a local anesthetic to numb the area. It pinched a little, but it was certainly no worse than a shot of Novacaine. I thought he’d have to wait a few minutes for the anesthetic to kick in, but all of a sudden he said, “OK, the first one’s done. Relax for a moment.” I didn’t even feel it. I was more aware of the next two sticks, but I can’t say they hurt. I could feel a tiny bit of pressure, but it wasn’t bothersome. The whole thing took between 5-10 minutes and then it was over. I got a Band-Aid on my boo-boo and a self-adhesive purple ice pack on my neck. The nurse joked, “Next time, you really should schedule these things better so that you can wear a turtleneck and not show off that crazy purple ice pack.” 😉

I kept the ice pack on for about 20 minutes and then it was no longer cold so I took it off. I never put it back and didn’t have any swelling around the area. Last night it felt slightly sore — like a bruise — but when I woke up this morning everything felt normal. It looks like I have a scratch on my neck, but that’s about it!

The radiology center I went to does a lot of FNAs, so I have to imagine that made a difference. My experience was very positive and if you ever need to have it done, there is nothing to worry about! So now I just have to wait for the results. Let’s hope that brings good news, as well.

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4 Comments

  1. This was interesting to read and very informing. Thanks for taking the time to compose it. So pleased it wasn’t any more uncomfortable than it sounds and not nearly as traumatic as we might have imagined. I honestly am not expecting unfavorable news and will be extremely eager to hear the results of this biopsy. I admire your doctor for being so vigilant, and also you for being so conscientious about following up on it.

    The cherry picking pictures of all the little ones were adorable. They’re really the cutest things ever.

  2. I am *so* relieved for you. (And you can imagine how relieved I was, too, when my mammogram came back absolutely fine!) Sounds like the procedure wasn’t too bad. The thought of needles in your neck is *so* creepy and weird, but I’m like you ~ I don’t mind needles. That self-adhesive ice pack sounds neat ~ that would be a good thing for kids, since it would be hard for them to keep an ice pack on.

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