Indeterminate thyroid nodules: A challenge for the surgical strategy

Section of Endocrine Surgery, Division of General Surgery, Department of General Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Surgery (Impact Factor: 3.38). 03/2010; 148(3):516-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.surg.2010.01.020
Source: PubMed


Because no clinical parameter can establish the final status of a cytologically indeterminate thyroid nodule (ITN) or nodal-metastases in case of malignancy, the initial surgical strategy should define an oncologically adequate procedure with low morbidity.
The prognostic relevance of sex, age, tumor sizes, multifocality, thyroid function, and recurrence was analyzed in 156 consecutive patients according to the presence of malignancy and nodal metastases. The accuracy of frozen sections to reveal malignancy was determined. Clinical parameters were compared with regard to their ability to identify malignancy and nodal metastases in an ITN to determine an appropriate initial operative strategy.
One hundred and eighteen (75.6%) patients underwent (total) thyroidectomy, 37 (23.7%) patients underwent hemithyroidectomy, and 1 patient underwent isthmus resection. Fifty-five (35.3%) patients showed malignancy. First step lymphadenectomy (lymph node dissection along the recurrent laryngeal nerve before removing the thyroid lobe) was performed in 142 patients documenting 10 nodal metastases. Comparing benign and malignant ITN, no association was found for sex (P = .17), age (P = 1.0), tumor sizes (P = .33, P = .12, P = .19 for < or =30 mm, < or =40 mm, and < or =50 mm, respectively), or thyroid function (P = .26). The determination of malignancy by frozen section showed a sensitivity of 30.9% and a specificity of 100%. No permanent hypoparathyroidism or recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy was observed postoperatively.
Because of the failure of available clinical parameters to predict malignancy in cytologically ITN, hemithyroidectomy in unilateral goiter and thyroidectomy in bilateral goiter is recommended. Ipsilateral "first step central neck dissection" on the side of ITN offers the advantages of oncologically adequate resection and staging with a low morbidity, as well as avoids reoperation.

15 Reads
  • Source
    • "Furthermore, the average percentage of nodules with inconclusive or indeterminate cytology obtained by FNAB guided by ultrasound is approximately 5% to 17% [21]. Based on final histopathology, 19.2% to 35.3% of indeterminate FNABs were diagnosed as malignant [22], [23], [24]. Thus, although benign lesions may be diagnosed as malignant or malignant lesions may be diagnosed as benign, these findings raise the possibility of malignancy among lesions with indeterminate FNAB results. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: After the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (CNPP), the incidence of thyroid cancer increased among children. Recently, a strong relationship between solid thyroid nodules and the incidence of thyroid cancer was shown in atomic bomb survivors. To assess the prognosis of benign thyroid nodules in individuals living in the Zhitomir region of Ukraine, around the CNPP, we conducted a follow-up investigation of screening data from 1991 to 2000 in the Ukraine. Participants of this study were 160 inhabitants with thyroid nodules (nodule group) and 160 inhabitants without thyroid nodules (normal control group) intially identified by ultrasonography from 1991 to 2000. All participants were aged 0 to 10 years old and lived in the same area at the time of the accident. We performed follow-up screening of participants and assessed thyroid nodules by fine needle aspiration biopsy. Among the nodule group participants, the number and size of nodules were significantly increased at the follow-up screening compared with the initial screening. No thyroid nodules were observed among the normal control group participants. The prevalence of thyroid abnormality, especially nodules that could be cancerous (malignant or suspicious by fine needle aspiration biopsy), was 7.5% in the nodule group and 0% in the normal control group (P<0.001). Our study indicated that a thyroid nodule in childhood is a prognostic factor associated with an increase in the number and size of nodules in individuals living in the Zhitomir region of Ukraine.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · PLoS ONE
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although fine-needle aspiration cytology remains the mainstay of the preoperative workup of thyroid nodules, those with follicular proliferation still represent a diagnostic challenge. Real-time elastography (RTE) estimates the stiffness/elasticity of lesions and is regarded as a promising technique for the presurgical selection of thyroid nodules (including those with indeterminate cytology). Our aim was to verify the potential role of RTE in the presurgical diagnosis of cancer in a large cohort of consecutive patients with follicular thyroid nodules. One hundred two patients were submitted to conventional ultrasonography and RTE evaluation before being operated on for thyroid nodule with indeterminate cytology (54% single nodules). Tissue stiffness on RTE was scored from 1 (greatest elasticity) to 4 (no elasticity). At conventional ultrasonography examination, the nodules (median diameter 2.2 cm) were solid (cystic areas < 10%); microcalcifications were detected in 56% of them and a hypoechoic pattern in 64%. Elasticity was high in eight cases only (score 1-2) although low in 94 (score 3-4). Cancer was diagnosed in 36 nodules (35%), being associated with microcalcifications (P < 0.0001) and inversely related to nodule diameter (P < 0.01). Malignancy was detected in 50% of the nodules with RTE score 1-2 and in 34% of those with score 3-4. Therefore, either the positive (34%) or the negative predictive value (50%) was clinically negligible. The current study does not confirm the recently reported usefulness of RTE in presurgical selection of nodules with indeterminate cytology and suggest the need for quantitative analytical assessment of nodule stiffness to improve RTE efficacy.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2011 · The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Molecular testing of fine-needle aspiration (FNA) results helps diagnose thyroid cancer, although the additional cost of this adjunct has not been studied. We hypothesized that FNA molecular testing of two indeterminate categories (follicular lesion of undetermined significance and follicular/Hürthle cell neoplasm) can be cost saving. For a hypothetical group of euthyroid patients with a 1-cm or larger solitary thyroid nodule, a decision-tree model was constructed to compare the estimated costs of initial evaluation according to the current American Thyroid Association guidelines, either with molecular testing (MT) or without [standard of care (StC)]. Model endpoints were either benign FNA results or definitive histological diagnosis. Molecular testing added $104 per patient to the overall cost of nodule evaluation (StC $578 vs. MT $682). In this distributed cost model, MT was associated with a decrease in the number of diagnostic lobectomies (9.7% vs. StC 11.6%), whereas initial total thyroidectomy was more frequent (18.2% vs. StC 16.1%). Although MT use added a diagnostic cost of $5031 to each additional indicated total thyroidectomy ($11,383), the cumulative cost was still less than the comparable cost of performing lobectomy ($7684) followed by completion thyroidectomy ($11,954) in the StC pathway, when indicated by histological results. In sensitivity analysis, savings were demonstrated if molecular testing cost was less than $870. Molecular testing of cytologically indeterminate FNA results is cost saving predominantly because of reduction in two-stage thyroidectomy. Appropriate use of emerging molecular testing techniques may thus help optimize patient care, improve resource use, and avoid unnecessary operation.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Show more