Guideline implementation on fine-needle aspiration for thyroid nodules: Focusing on micronodules

Si Eun Lee, Eun Kyung Kim, Hee Jung Moon, Jung Hyun Yoon, Vivian Youngjean Park, Kyunghwa Han, Jin Young Kwak

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Objective: We investigated patients who were referred to our institution after fine-needle aspiration (FNA) was performed at outside clinics to evaluate how many nodules satisfied the FNA indications of the Korean Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System (K-TIRADS) and compare that to the number of thyroid nodules that satisfy the FNA indications of the American College of Radiology (ACR)-TIRADS and American Thyroid Association (ATA) guidelines. Methods: Between January 2018 and December 2018, 2,628 patients were included in our study. The included patients were those referred for thyroid surgery after having a suspicious thyroid nodule. We retrospectively applied the three guidelines to each thyroid nodule and determined whether each nodule satisfied the FNA indications. We compared the proportion of nodules satisfying the FNA indications of each guideline using a generalized linear model and generalized estimating equation. Results: The median size of the 2,628 thyroid nodules was 0.9 cm (range, 0.2 to 9.5 cm). We found that FNA was not indicated for 54.1%, 47.7%, and 19.1% of nodules and 87.3%, 99.0%, and 97.8% among them were micronodules (<1 cm) according to the ACR-TIRADS, ATA guideline, and K-TIRADS, respectively. The proportion of micronodules which satisfied the FNA indications was significantly higher for the K-TIRADS (65.1%) compared to the ACR TIRADS (12.1%) and ATA guideline (12.1%) (P<.001). Conclusion: Among patients referred for thyroid surgery to our institutions, about 35% of the micronodules underwent FNA despite not being appropriate for indications by the K-TIRADS. Systematic training for physicians as well as modifications to increase the sensitivity of the guideline may be needed to reduce the overdiagnosis of thyroid cancers, especially for micronodules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1017-1025
Number of pages9
JournalEndocrine Practice
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2020 AACE.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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