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Feline Thyroid Palpation Techniques

Paepe, D., P. Smets, et al. (2008). “Within- and between-examiner agreement for two thyroid palpation techniques in healthy and hyperthyroid cats.” Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery 10(6): 558-565.

The most common endocrine disorder of senior cats is hyperthyroidism. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent serious complications. One of the most important diagnostic tools is palpation of the thyroid gland for enlargement, a standard part of the physical examination, especially for senior cats. There are two thyroid palpation techniques for cats described in the literature. The classic technique has the cat in a sitting position with the neck extended. Another technique has the cat standing with the head elevated and turned to one side. The diagnostic value of these techniques has not been compared. In this prospective study, 9 client-owned hyperthyroid cats and 10 healthy control cats were examined twice by 3 blind-folded clinicians using each palpation technique. A score from 1 to 6 was assigned to thyroid gland size each time. After clipping the hair of the ventral neck region, a final palpation session was performed, followed by ultrasonography of the gland. The classic palpation technique led to smaller within- and between-examiner differences. Clipping the hair coat did not make a significant difference. While both thyroid palpation techniques had good within- and between-examiner results, the investigators concluded that the classic palpation technique is preferred.
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Related Articles:
Norsworthy, G., V. Adams, et al. (2002). “Relationship between semi-quantitative thyroid gland palpation and total thyroxine concentration in cats with an without hyperadrenocorticism.” J Fel Med Surg 4(3): 139.
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Norsworthy, G., V. Adams, et al. (2002). “Palpable thyroid and parathyroid nodules in asymptomatic cats.” J Fel Med Surg 4(3): 145.
>> PubMed Abstract