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Repeat Thyroid Nodule Fine-Needle Aspiration in Patients With Initial Benign Cytologic Results

Melina B. Flanagan MD, MSPH, N. Paul Ohori MD, Sally E. Carty MD, Jennifer L. Hunt MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/4AXLDMN1JRPMTX5P 698-702 First published online: 1 May 2006


Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) is the standard of care for the initial workup of thyroid nodules, but there is no consensus algorithm to manage patients with benign results. We examined performance characteristics of initial and repeat satisfactory FNAs for all 402 patients who underwent thyroid surgery during a recent 22-month period. Of these patients, 267 had at least 1 satisfactory FNA and 70 had 2 or more. After an initial benign FNA, 1 repeat FNA correctly identified an unsuspected malignancy in 2 of 70 patients and was indeterminate in 17; of these, 7 of 17 were identified as malignant in the final pathologic diagnosis. Overall, the use of 1 repeat FNA increased the sensitivity for malignancy from 81.7% to 90.4% and decreased the false-negative rate from 17.1% to 11.4%. With more than 1 repeat FNA, there was no improvement in performance characteristics. These data make a strong argument for 1 repeat FNA following an initial benign FNA diagnosis.

Key Words:
  • Thyroid
  • Fine-needle aspiration
  • FNA
  • Repeat testing