Thyroid manual palpation

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Enlarged thyroid gland in a Domestic shorthair cat

Palpation of the thyroid gland using manual examination is an important clinical step toward the diagnosis of feline hyperthyroidism[1].

Even though a large number fo hyperthyroid cats have functional adenomas that may or may not be palpable to most clinicians, a full examination of the thyroid gland is essential in any cat that has clinical signs suspicious of this disease.

Palpation is best performed by raising the cat’s chin to a 45º angle and turning the head 45º to the right, placing the left index finger in the groove between the trachea and muscles to the left of the larynx. The index finger should be moved downward to the thoracic inlet. The direction of the head should be reversed and palpation repeated to examine the right cervical area. Palpation can be highly sensitive in detecting hyperthyroid cats, but many euthyroid cats also may possess palpable goiters. However, a large number of elderly, euthyroid cats with palpable goiters ultimately develop hyperthyroidism[2].


  1. August, JR (2006) Consultations in feline internal medicine. Vol 5. Elsevier Saunders, USA
  2. Harvey AM et al (2009) Scintigraphic findings in 120 hyperthyroid cats. JFMS 11:96-106