Thursday, January 29, 2009

Clinical Exam Important In Thyroid Diagnosis

A lot of doctors, when getting initially tested for thyroid disease and even after diagnosis, rely only on blood tests. These are only part of the equation. The hardest part of getting an accurate thyroid diagnosis comes from the clinical thyroid exam.

During a thorough thyroid exam, the doctor include: (taken from

  • Feel (known as “palpate”) your neck for thyroid abnormalities
  • Listen to your thyroid using a stethoscope.
  • Test your reflexes
  • Check your heart rate, rhythm and blood pressure
  • Measure your weight, and discuss changes
  • Measure body temperature
  • Examine your face for puffiness and eyebrow loss
  • Examine your eyes for protrusion, eyelid retraction and other potentially thyroid-related signs
  • Discuss changes in the quality/quantity of your hair
  • Examine your skin, for hives, lesions or roughness on the shins, and blister-like bumps on the face
  • Note any tremor, shakiness, slowness in movement or speech, hoarseness of voice, and swelling of hands/feet
  • Discuss your personal and family history of thyroid and autoimmune disease
  • Listen carefully to your medical history, and your symptoms

“A doctor who doesn’t do a complete clinical thyroid exam,” says Shomon, “is shortchanging patients, and will miss many cases of thyroid disease. Unfortunately, in this day of managed care and 5 minute doctor visits, patients may have to push for the doctor to actually perform a full thyroid exam.”

The key will be finding the right thyroid doctor. I’ve yet to find one myself, and I think it’s because I’m dealing with an HMO with standard way of treating thyroid disease. Here’s a good place to start in finding a good thyroid doctor