Until you become familiar with this examination, check your visual observations with your fingers from in front of the patient. This will orient you to the next step.

You are now ready to palpate the thyroid gland. This may seem difficult at first. Use the cues from visual inspection. Find your landmarks, adopt good technique, and follow the steps on the next page, which outline the posterior approach (technique for the anterior approach is similar). With experience you will become more adept. The thyroid gland is usually easier to feel in a long slender neck than in a short stocky one. In shorter necks, added extension of the neck may help. In some persons, however, the thyroid gland is partially or wholly substernal and not amenable to physical examination.

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