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Endocrine Disease Tests and Diagnostic Procedures at UPMC

At UPMC Endocrinology, we diagnose and treat problems with the endocrine system, which makes and releases hormones.

The endocrine glands include the:

  • Thyroid.
  • Parathyroid.
  • Pancreas gland.
  • Pituitary gland.
  • Adrenal glands.

Finding Endocrine and Hormone Problems Early

Our goal is to find thyroid nodules, benign growths, and cancers in the endocrine systems early as we can. This way, we can treat them before they damage nearby tissue.

Finding thyroid problems early also means doctors can choose treatments that preserve more of your thyroid function.

At UPMC, we offer routine screenings and advanced tests for endocrine disorders that other centers don't.

By providing a wide range of tests, we can offer a clear diagnosis and start treatment right away.

Blood tests

Blood tests involve taking a small sample of your blood to measure hormone levels and look for:

  • Thyroid disease.
  • Thyroid tumors.
  • Problems with your parathyroid, adrenal glands, and pancreas.

Thyroid ultrasound

A thyroid ultrasound uses sound waves to take real-time images of your thyroid to look for abnormal lumps or nodules.

The test is noninvasive and doesn't use radiation, making it safe and painless.

Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy of the thyroid

When an ultrasound shows a thyroid nodule, an FNA biopsy is often the next step. Your doctor takes a sample of the nodule using a thin needle.

There's little pain with this test, though we offer anesthesia if needed.

Our lab experts then study the sample under a microscope to see if it's cancerous. We're often able to give results on the same day.

ThyroSeq® genetic test

When FNA biopsy results aren't clear, we offer the ThyroSeq® test.

Created at UPMC, doctors across the U.S. now use this test to learn if thyroid nodules are benign or cancerous.

The test finds unique genetic changes in a thyroid tissue sample versus costly diagnostic surgery.

Parathyroid tests

The parathyroid glands, which lie below your thyroid, are so small that they often need more advanced tests.

To find parathyroid cancer, we offer:

  • CT scans, which use x-rays from different angles to create a 3D image.
  • Single-photon emission CT scans, which inject a protein absorbed by the parathyroid along with a radioactive dye. This way, any problems in the parathyroid glands show up in the CT scan.

Adrenal tests

The adrenal glands are small endocrine glands found above your kidneys.

On top of MRI and CT scans, we offer adrenal venous sampling tests to pinpoint problems with the adrenal glands.

For this test, a radiologist sends a fine needle through the vein. They then take a sample of blood as it comes from each adrenal gland.

The endocrinologist can then pinpoint whether one or both of the adrenal glands are making abnormal hormones.

Genetic testing and counseling for multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes

These disorders cause tumors in one or more glands in the endocrine system.

Symptoms can vary widely based on the type of MEN syndrome and may not show up until adulthood. Some people carry the genes for a MEN syndrome without symptoms and pass it on to a child.

If you have a MEN syndrome or close family members do, we offer genetic testing and counseling. This helps you learn what your risk is of getting an endocrine disorder or passing it to future children.

Pancreatic endocrine tumor testing

UPMC Endocrinology offers special tests to look for cancers in the hormone-producing cells of the pancreas.

These include:

  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scans. These involve injecting safe radioactive tracers that cancer cells take up in higher amounts than normal cells. This makes them more visible in a CT scan or MRI.
  • Laparoscopic biopsies. For these, a surgeon sends a fine needle and camera through a tube to the pancreas. They then sample any tissue that looks abnormal.
  • Endoscopic ultrasounds. A radiologist passes a tiny ultrasound device down the throat to the pancreas. This gives a more detailed image of the pancreas than a standard ultrasound.

Make an Endocrinology Appointment at UPMC

Contact us to make an appointment or learn more about our full range of expertise.

Find a UPMC endocrinology location near you.