Although nearly half of thyroid nodules with Bethesda V cytology (suspicious for malignancy) may be benign or harbor low-grade neoplasms that can be sufficiently treated with lobectomy, many patients with Bethesda V cytology continue to be treated with total thyroidectomy. The objectives of this study were to establish whether cytomorphologic and ultrasonographic features can determine appropriate surgery for thyroid nodules with Bethesda V cytology and how often patients are overtreated with total instead of partial thyroidectomy.
Utilizing a 10-y prospective database starting January 1, 2004, cytomorphologic and ultrasonographic features of thyroid nodules with Bethesda V cytology were reviewed. Overtreatment was defined as total thyroidectomy when histopathology revealed benign nodule, noninvasive follicular thyroid neoplasm with papillary-like nuclear features (NIFTP) or a unilateral < 4 cm low risk cancer.
Sixty-three patients were included in the study. Seventeen (27%) had benign, 14 (22%) NIFTP, and 32 (51%) malignant nodules. On cytology, nuclear pseudoinclusions, and on ultrasound, taller-than-wide configuration, were more common in malignant than benign or NIFTP nodules. Among 56 patients who underwent total thyroidectomy, 14 and 11 had a benign or NIFTP nodule, respectively, and 13 had a unilateral < 4 cm low risk cancer, suggesting that 68% (38/56) were overtreated.
Total thyroidectomy for Bethesda V thyroid nodules may result in overtreatment in more than half of the patients. Although certain cytomorphologic and ultarsonographic features may be helpful in determining appropriate surgery for Bethesda V thyroid nodules, additional characteristics are needed to reduce overtreatment of these nodules.
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