The impact of synoptic cytology reporting on fine-needle aspiration cytology of thyroid nodules

University of Vic, Vic, Catalonia, Spain
ANZ Journal of Surgery (Impact Factor: 1.12). 12/2007; 77(11):991-5. DOI: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.2007.04297.x
Source: PubMed


Fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is integral to the diagnosis and management of patients with thyroid nodules. We introduced synoptic cytology reporting for thyroid nodules in 2004. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of synoptic cytology reporting in our institution.
A comparative study of two 2-year periods (1 August 2002 to 1 August 2004 and 2 August 2004 to 2 August 2006) before and after the introduction of synoptic reporting was conducted from a prospectively collected database of patients presented with thyroid nodules. The only change during these periods was the format of FNAC reporting. We used the same radiological practice and cytopathology service throughout the study period. All patients are still being followed up.
There were a total of 660 patients. Of these, 376 were operated and 284 non-operated. The female to male ratio was 7:1. Comparing the two periods, the overall FNAC sensitivities were 60% versus 79.1%; specificities, 83.7% versus 79.4%; accuracy, 76% versus 79.3%; false-positive result, 16.3% versus 20.6% and false-negative result, 40% versus 20.9%. The non-diagnostic rates were 7.4% versus 3.15%. FNAC prompted surgery in 66.7% versus 100% in carcinoma and 56.4% versus 73.6% in adenoma. A benign FNAC prompted surgery in 15% versus 19.8% of cases. There was no thyroid cancer detected in the current follow up.
Synoptic cytology reporting has resulted in an overall improvement in all measures of the tests. It is a simple and effective tool to use. Synoptic cytology reporting is therefore recommended for all endocrine surgical units.

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    ABSTRACT: Thyroid nodules are common, with up to 8% of the adult population having palpable nodules. With the use of ultrasound, up to 10 times more nodules are likely to be detected. Increasing numbers of nodules are being detected serendipitously because of the rising use of imaging to investigate unrelated conditions. The primary aim in investigating a thyroid nodule is to exclude the possibility of malignancy, which occurs in about 5% of nodules. This begins with a thorough history, including previous exposure to radiation and any family history of thyroid cancer or other endocrine diseases. Clinical examination of the neck should focus on the thyroid nodule and the gland itself, but also the presence of any cervical lymphadenopathy. Biochemical assessment of the thyroid needs to be followed by thyroid ultrasound, which may demonstrate features that are associated with a higher chance of the nodule being malignant. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy is crucial in the investigation of a thyroid nodule. It provides highly accurate cytologic information about the nodule from which a definitive management plan can be formulated. The challenge remains in the management of nodules that fall under the "indeterminate" category. These may be subject to more surgical intervention than is required because histological examination is the only way in which a malignancy can be excluded. Surgery followed by radioactive iodine ablation is the mainstay of treatment for differentiated thyroid cancers, and the majority of patients can expect high cure rates.
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