The role of imaging in Graves' disease: a cost-effectiveness analysis.
ABSTRACT According to many guidelines, scintigraphy remains the first suggested diagnostic procedure in hyperthyroid patients in spite of the widespread availability of ultrasounds. The aim of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of sonography versus scintigraphy in the management of Graves's disease, and to assess ultrasound features suggesting cancer in detecting thyroid nodules. Among 1470 hyperthyroid patients evaluated in our department from 2002 to 2005, 426 (29%) had Graves' disease: echographic and scintigraphic features were not suggestive of GD in 20/426 (4.8%) and 11/426 (2.6%) patients, respectively (p=0.763), even if one of the two procedures was almost always diagnostic. Ultrasound identified 68/426 (16%) patients with a concomitant solid lesion, while scintigraphy detected only 9/426 (2.1%) "cold" nodules (p<0.001). Thyroid cancer was diagnosed in 30/68 (47.7%) patients. Malignancy presented at ultrasound investigation blurred margins (26.7% versus 15.8%), microcalcifications (33.3% versus 28.9%) and an anteroposterior and transverse diameter ratio>or=1 (73.3% versus 71.1%); more frequently than benign nodules, but this was not statistically significant. The total cost to obtain a diagnosis by ultrasound was euro14645.34 (euro13312.5 for echography+euro1332.84 for scintigraphy in the 29 patients "negative" at echographic evaluation for GD) versus euro19922.71 by scintigraphy (euro19578.96 for scan+euro343.75 for ultrasounds in the 11 patients "negative" at scintigraphy). Our data show no difference in terms of diagnosis between sonography and scintigraphy. Indeed, scintigraphy was less sensitive in detecting nodules (often of malignant nature) than ultrasound, and, moreover, with a consequent increase of the direct cost of nodule management when scintigraphy is the first line procedure. In conclusion, according to our results, we suggest that ultrasounds with color-Doppler evaluation should be performed as first step in all hyperthyroid patients, and that scintigraphic examination should be limited only to the uncommon cases, where physician's observation, laboratory assays and/or ultrasounds are not diagnostic.
- Clinical Endocrinology 01/2002; 55(6):711 - 718. · 3.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To evaluate if a nodule with shape taller than wide (anteroposterior/transverse diameter ratio, A/T > or = 1) is a good predictor of malignancy independent of the size. We retrospectively examined the cytological and histological results of 7455 nodules (5198 patients) referred for ultrasound-guided-fine needle aspiration cytology (US-FNAC) in our hospital from January 1991 to September 2004. A suitable FNAC was obtained from 6135 nodules (4495 patients); 34.6% were less than 1 cm in diameter (small nodules, SN). A diagnosis of carcinoma was histologically confirmed in 284/349 suspicious lesions after FNAC. The size of carcinoma nodules was not significantly associated with the occurrence of extracapsular growth (large nodules (LN): 10.5%, SN: 4.9%, NS) and lymph node metastasis (LN: 23.6%, SN: 25.0%, NS). Malignant lesions showed microcalcifications more frequently than benign nodules (72.2 vs 28.7%; P < 0.001; (odds ratio, OR(confidence intervals, CI) = 9.9(7.2-13.4)). Similarly, A/T > or = 1 (76 vs 40%; P < 0.001; OR(CI) = 8.6(5.5-13.1)), blurred margins (52.8 vs 18.8%; P < 0.001; OR(CI) = 7.7(5.6-10.2)), solid hypo-echoic appearance (80.6 vs 52.4%; P < 0.001; OR(CI) = 3.2(2.2-4.3)) and intranodular vascular pattern (type 2) (61.6 vs 49.7%; P < 0.001; OR(CI) = 1.7(1.3-2.3)) were significantly more frequent in malignant than in benign nodules. Our data show that no single parameter, including nodule size, satisfactorily identifies a subset of patients to be electively investigated by FNAC. We concluded that A/T > or = 1 with at least two of US features (microcalcification, blurred margins, hypo-echoic pattern) is today the best compromise between missing cancers and cost-benefit.European Journal of Endocrinology 08/2006; 155(1):27-31. · 3.14 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: SUMMARYA survey has been conducted in Whickham, County Durham, to determine the prevalence of thyroid disorders in the community. Two thousand seven hundred and seventy-nine people (82.4% of the available sample) were seen in the survey. The prevalence of overt hyperthyroidism was 19/1000 females rising to 27/1000 females when possible cases were included, compared with 1.6–2.3/1000 males. The prevalence of overt hyothyroidism was 14/1000 females rising to 19/1000 females when possible cases were included, compared with less than 1/1000 males. The prevalence of spontaneous overt hypothyroidism (excluding iatrogenic cases) was 10/1000 females or 15/1000 females including unconfirmed cases. Minor degrees of hypothyroidism were defined on the basis of elevated serum thyrotrophin (TSH) levels in the absence of obvious clinical features of hypothyroidism. TSH levels did not vary with age in males but increased markedly in females after the age of 45 years. The rise of TSH with age in females was virtually abolished when persons with thyroid antibodies were excluded from the sample. TSH levels above 6 mu/1 were shown to reflect a significant lowering of circulating thyroxine levels and showed a strong association with thyroid antibodies in both sexes, independent of age. Elevated TSH levels (>6mu/l) were recorded in 7.5% of females and 2.8% of males of all ages. Thyroglobulin antibodies were present in 2% of the sample. Thyroid cytoplasmic antibodies were present in 6.8% of the sample (females 10.3%, males 2.7%) and their frequency did not vary significantly with age in males but increased markedly in females over 45 years of age. 3% of the sample (females 5.1%, males 1.1%) had thyroid antibodies and elevated TSH levels and the relative risk of a high TSH level in subjects with antibodies was 20:1 for males and 13:1 for females, independent of age. Small goitres (palpable but not visible) were found in 8.6% of the sample and obvious goitres (palpable and visible) in 6.9%. Goitres were four times more common in females than in males and were most commonly found in younger rather than older females. TSH levels were slightly but not significantly lower in those with goitre than in those without goitre. There was a weak association between goitre and antibodies in females but not males.Clinical Endocrinology 11/1977; 7(6):481 - 493. · 3.40 Impact Factor