David F. Schneider, Linda M. Cherney Stafford, Nicole Brys, Caprice C. Greenberg, Courtney J. Balentine, Dawn M. Elfenbein, Susan C. Pitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Increasing emphasis is being placed on appropriateness of care and avoidance of over- and under-treatment. Indeterminate thyroid nodules (ITNs) present a particular risk for this problem because cancer found via diagnostic lobectomy (DL) often requires a completion thyroidectomy (CT). However, initial total thyroidectomy (TT) for benign ITN results in lifelong thyroid hormone replacement. We sought to measure the accuracy and factors associated with the extent of initial thyroidectomy for ITN.

METHODS: We queried a single institution thyroid surgery database for all adult patients undergoing an initial operation for ITN. Multivariate logistic regression identified factors associated with either oncologic under- or overtreatment at initial operation.

RESULTS: There were 639 patients with ITN. The median age was 52 (range, 18 to 93) years, 78.4% were female, and final pathology revealed a cancer >1 cm in 24.7%. The most common cytology was follicular neoplasm (45.1%) followed by Hürthle cell neoplasm (20.2%). CT or initial oncologic undertreatment was required in 58 patients (9.3%). Excluding those with goiters, 19.0% were treated with TT for benign final pathology. Multivariate analysis failed to identify any factor that independently predicted the need for CT. Female gender was associated with TT in benign disease (odds ratio [OR], 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.0 to 4.5; P = .05). Age >45 years predicted correct initial use of DL (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.2 to 5.7; P = .02). Suspicious for papillary thyroid carcinoma (OR, 5.7; 95% CI, 2.1 to 15.3; P<.01) and frozen section (OR, 9.7; 95% CI, 2.5 to 38.6; P<.01) were associated with oncologically appropriate initial TT. The highest frequency of CT occurred in patients with follicular lesion of undetermined significance (11.6%). TT for benign final pathology occurred most frequently in patients with a Hürthle cell neoplasm (24.8%).

CONCLUSION: In patients with ITN, nearly 30% received an inappropriate extent of initial thyroidectomy from an oncologic standpoint. Tools to pre-operatively identify both benign and malignant disease can assist in the complex decision making to gauge the proper extent of initial surgery for ITN.

ABBREVIATIONS: ATA = American Thyroid Association AUS = atypia of undetermined significance CI = confidence interval CT = completion thyroidectomy FLUS = follicular lesion of undetermined significance ITN = indeterminate thyroid nodule OR = odds ratio PTC = papillary thyroid carcinoma TT = total thyroidectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-450
Number of pages9
JournalEndocrine practice : official journal of the American College of Endocrinology and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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