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Do all Thyroid Nodules >4 Cm Need to be Removed? An Evaluation of Thyroid Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy in Large Thyroid Nodules

Do all Thyroid Nodules >4 Cm Need to be Removed? An Evaluation of Thyroid Fine-Needle Aspiration Biopsy in Large Thyroid Nodules

Endocrine Practice 22(7): 791-798

Controversy exists regarding the ability of fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy to rule out malignancy when thyroid nodules exceed 4 cm in diameter. The goal of this study was to provide data regarding FNA accuracy in a clinical setting for detecting/ruling out malignancy in large thyroid nodules (≥4 cm) and discuss FNA utility in guiding surgical decisions. All thyroid FNA cases performed at Marshfield Clinic from 1/1/2000 to 12/31/2010 followed by complete or partial thyroidectomy on nodules of at least 4 cm were identified. Demographics, medical history, nodule biopsy characteristics, surgical procedures, and diagnosis data were abstracted. FNA was compared to histologic evaluation of surgical specimens. A total of 198 patients with large thyroid nodules were identified. Most had a single large nodule, but ~40% were multinodular, and 206 total nodules were assessed. Females outnumbered males, and the mean age was ~50 years. After surgery, cancer was histologically identified in 49/206 (23.8%) nodules, including 9/123 nodules that had been categorized as benign by FNA, corresponding to a false-negative rate of 7.3%. Sensitivity/specificity for detecting malignancy by FNA was ~80%. The positive predictive value (PPV) was just below 60%, and the negative predictive value (NPV) was 93% but rose to 96% when papillary microcarcinomas were excluded. While FNA sensitivity in large nodules was relatively low, NPV was high, especially if incidental papillary microcarcinomas were excluded. When cancer prevalence and NPV are known, FNA can be a reliable "rule out" test in nodules ≥4 cm. This information is critical and can help guide the surgery decision, especially in high-risk patients. The decision for surgery should not be solely based on nodule size but should consider additional factors including cancer prevalence, clinical history, ultrasound features, surgical risk, and life expectancy. FNA = fine-needle aspiration NPV = negative predictive value PPV = positive predictive value.

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Accession: 057556379

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26919652

DOI: 10.4158/EP151150.OR

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