Nonoperative techniques for tissue diagnosis in the management of thyroid nodules and goiters

Kimberly C. Clark, Frederick L. Moffat, Alfred S. Ketcham, Adrian Legaspi, David S. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


As only 10% of thyroid nodules are malignant, the surgical oncologist is faced with the challenge of selecting for thyroidectomy only those patients likely to benefit therapeutically from surgery. Demonstration of nonfunction on scintigraphic thyroid scan increases the yield of cancer only by 15% to 20%. Aspiration cytology and needle biopsy are potent aids in selecting patients for thyroidectomy. In 1,504 patients for whom a benign or malignant cytological diagnosis was made prior to thyroidectomy, the sensitivity of this technique was 92.0%, specificity was 97.3%, and overall diagnostic accuracy 95.7%. Morbidity is minimal. The reliability of these techniques is dependent on proficient specimen procurement and the cytopathologist's expertise and experience. Differentiation of benign from malignant follicular and lymphocytic lesions is not possible with conventional cytology preparations; 28% of such “indeterminant” lesions prove to be cancer at thyroidectomy. Aspiration cytology is a simple, reliable technique for selection of patients with thyroid nodules for surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-80
Number of pages5
JournalSeminars in Surgical Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991


  • aspiration cytology
  • needle biopsy
  • needle track dissemination
  • scintigraphic thyroid scan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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