Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What You Should Know About Your Thyroid

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. You may be aware that you HAVE a thyroid, but are you aware of the important role your thyroid plays in how your body functions?

The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck, above your collarbone. It it one of your endocrine glands and produces hormones which, among other things, regulates your metabolism, including your body temperature and your body's consumption of oxygen and food. Thyroid disease, however, is quite common, especially among women.

Take this online quiz to find out if you could have a thyroid problem.

The most common thyroid problem in this country, affecting millions of people (most of them women), is hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is under active, and is not producing enough hormone to properly run the body's metabolism. This can happen due to an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto's thyroiditis which causes the body to attack the thyroid, resulting in the gland producing less hormone. Other causes include having the thyroid removed and exposure to excessive amounts of iodine. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, fatigue, and sensitivity to cold. Hypothyroidism can be identified by a simple blood test, and is treated by hormone supplementation to get the levels up to normal. Take this online quiz to determine if you have symptoms of hypothyroidism.

The second most common thyroid issue is hyperthyroidism -- or having an overactive thyroid gland which produces too much hormone. This can happen due to an autoimmune disorder called Graves' disease, which causes the body to send false signals to the thyroid gland telling it to produce hormone when it shouldn't. Other causes can include certain thyroid nodules and thyroiditis. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, sensitivity to heat, and a fast heart beat. Hyperthyroidism can also be identified by a simple blood test, and is treated in a variety of ways once the specific cause is determined. Take this online quiz to determine if you have symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid nodules are fluid-filled cysts which are often benign. Your doctor may recommend a thyroid ultrasound to evaluate a nodule. A thyroid biopsy might be ordered to rule out thyroid cancer. 

For more information about thyroid disease, diagnosis and treatments, visit the American Thyroid Association.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Adding 3D Tomography to Mammography Aids in Cancer Detection, Reduces False-Positives

Results of a new, large-scale study have revealed that adding 3D tomography to conventional 2D mammography increases cancer detection by as much as 40%, while lowering false-positive results by 15%. The study results published in the journal, Radiology, showed that adding 3D tomography increased detection rates for cancer, and reduced the number of false-positives, resulting in more accurate diagnoses. According to the researchers, the use of mammography plus tomosynthesis for breast cancer screening "resulted in a significantly higher cancer detection rate and enabled the detection of more invasive cancers."

3D tomography improves a physician's ability to detect very small tumors which might not show up on a regular mammogram, especially in women with dense breasts.

Another study by Yale University School of Medicine, presented at the Radiological Society of North America's 2012 annual meeting, revealed that adding 3D tomography to mammography for screening purposes decreased recall rates by at least a third, particularly in younger women and those with more dense breast tissue. In fact, women with extremely dense breasts had an over 57% reduction in recalls when 3D tomography was added to conventional mammography.

The end result? For many women, especially younger women or those with dense breasts, adding 3D tomography will result in fewer false-positives and more cancers detected. ZPR now offers 3D tomography at eight of our nine locations. Ask your physician whether adding 3D tomography is appropriate for you.

For related blog topics, read Reducing Risk Factors for Breast Cancer, Resources for Women's Health,
10 Things You Should Know About Mammography and Dense Breast Tissue -- What Does it Mean?

Our February newsletter will cover what's new in breast imaging. If you do not receive our newsletter and you'd like to, you can sign up here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

All About Ultrasound

For the last few weeks, we've been answering some of the common questions people have about radiology, such as why is an MRI machine so noisy or what's the difference between digital X-ray and film X-ray or what is a "slice" in a CT scan? This week, we'll look at some common questions about ultrasound, also known as sonography.

What is ultrasound?
Ultrasound is a painless and safe test that uses high-frequency sound waves to allow healthcare practitioners to see organs, tissues and blood flow in the body.

Does it hurt?
Not at all! An ultrasound is painless and non-invasive.
Will I feel the sound waves?
No. The sound waves produced by an ultrasound can't be heard or felt.

Is there any radiation involved?
No. An ultrasound uses only sound waves, not radiation (like CT) or magnets (like MRI).

What is ultrasound useful for?
Ultrasound is routinely used during pregnancy to see the development of the baby, but  can also help evaluate internal organs (such as the heart, kidneys, liver, bladder, heart, thyroid, ovaries, and uterus) and blood flow.

Are there any adverse effects from having an ultrasound exam?
There are no known adverse effects from ultrasound. For that reason, you can safely have repeat scans.

Do you have any questions about MRI, CT, X-rayUltrasound or other scanning machines? Feel free to email us with your questions!