Main AHCA Website

AHCA’s main website for information on Medicaid, Health Quality Assurance and the Florida Center for Health Information and Transparency.

Go >

Florida Health Information Network

This website provides information and resources relating to AHCA’s initiatives for Health Information Technology and Health Information Exchange.

Go >

Provides health education and information to compare and locate health care providers in Florida to make well-informed health care decisions.

Go >
AHCA Network of Websites

Health Education

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Fine needle aspiration of the thyroid


Fine needle aspiration of the thyroid gland is a procedure to remove thyroid cells for examination. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located inside the front of the lower neck.

Alternative Names

Thyroid nodule fine needle aspirate biopsy; Biopsy - thyroid - skinny-needle; Skinny-needle thyroid biopsy

How the Test is Performed

This test may be done in the health care provider's office or in a hospital. Numbing medicine (anesthesia) may or may not be used because the needle is very thin.

You lie on your back with a pillow under your shoulders and your neck extended. The biopsy site is cleaned. A thin needle is inserted into the thyroid, and a sample of thyroid cells and fluid are removed. The needle is then taken out.

Pressure is applied to the biopsy site to stop any bleeding. The site is then covered with a bandage.

How to Prepare for the Test

Tell your health care provider if you have drug allergies, bleeding problems, or are pregnant. You should also make sure your health care provider has a current list of all medicines you take, including herbal remedies and over-the-counter drugs.

A few days to a week before surgery, you may be asked to stop taking medicines that make it harder for your blood to clot. Talk with your doctor before stopping any drugs. The drugs you may need to stop taking include:

  • Aspirin
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)

How the Test will Feel

If numbing medicine is used, you may feel a sting as the needle is inserted and the medicine is injected.

As the needle passes into the thyroid, you may feel some pressure, but it should not be painful.

You may have slight discomfort in your neck afterward. You may also have slight bruising, which soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

This is a test to diagnose thyroid disease or thyroid cancer. It is often used to find out if thyroid nodules that are felt by the doctor or seen by ultrasound are noncancerous or cancerous.

Normal Results

The thyroid tissue looks normal and the cells do not appear to be cancer under a microscope.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may mean:


The main risk is bleeding into or around the thyroid gland. If bleeding is severe, there may be pressure on the windpipe (trachea). This problem is rare.


Lai SY, Mandel SJ, Weber RS. Management of thyroid neoplasms. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund VJ, et al., eds. Cummings Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 124.

Schlumberger MJ, Fuketti S, Hay ID. Nontoxic diffuse and nodular goiter and thyroid neoplasia. In: McDermott MT, ed. Endocrine Secrets. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 14.

Review Date:4/9/2014
Reviewed By:Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

Health Encyclopedia

More Features

We Appreciate Your Feedback
1. Did you find this information useful?

2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?