Diagnosing Thyroid Disorders

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
A woman with a thyroid disorder holds her throat.

Credit: Robert A. Lisak

You may not spend much time thinking about whether your thyroid gland is functioning well, but it's more important than you would probably guess. This butterfly-shaped organ wraps around your windpipe and sits just beneath the Adam’s apple. Despite its small size, the thyroid gland contributes in large ways to the overall quality of your life. It plays a key role in the body’s endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, growth and development, reproduction, sleep and mood.

If your thyroid gland malfunctions in some way that affects the the production levels of hormones, you may notice something is amiss. However, because thyroid problems can be difficult to diagnose, doctors rely heavily on lab test results to provide insight.

This is why Yale Medicine researchers, such as Joe M. El-Khoury, PhD, who specializes in reading diagnostic tests, and others conduct ongoing research aimed at improving the tests used to detect thyroid disorders. The goal is to improve diagnostic techniques for thyroid problems, as well as other endocrine disorders.