Thyroid fine needle aspiration biopsy: Do nodule volume and cystic degeneration ratio affect specimen adequacy and cytological diagnosis time?

Cengic I., Tureli D., Ozden F., BUĞDAYCI O., Aydin H., Aribal E.

Acta Radiologica, vol.56, no.10, pp.1203-1208, 2015 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 56 Issue: 10
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/0284185114554825
  • Journal Name: Acta Radiologica
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1203-1208
  • Keywords: cystic degeneration ratio, fine needle aspiration biopsy, nodule size, specimen adequacy, Thyroid nodule
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: No


Background A fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) of thyroid nodules - the least invasive and most accurate method used to investigate malignant lesions - may yield non-diagnostic specimens even under ultrasonographic guidance. Purpose To evaluate the effects of thyroid nodule volume and extent of cystic degeneration on both the non-diagnostic specimen ratio as well as cytopathologist's definitive cytological diagnosis time. Material and Methods In this single center study, FNAB was performed on 505 patients with single thyroid nodules greater than 10 mm. Nodule volume was calculated prior to FNAB and cystic degeneration ratio was recorded. All biopsies were performed by a single radiologist who also prepared specimen slides. Specimen adequacy and final diagnosis were made in the pathology laboratory by a single-blinded cytopathologist based on the Bethesda system. Definitive cytological diagnosis time was recorded upon reaching a definitive diagnosis. Results The specimen adequacy ratio was 85.3%. The mean nodule volume of adequate specimens was larger than those of non-diagnostic samples (6.00 mL vs. 3.05 mL; P = 0.001). There was no correlation between nodule volume and cytopathologist's definitive cytological diagnosis time (r = 0.042). Biopsy of predominantly solid nodules yielded better specimen adequacy ratios compared to predominantly cystic nodules (87.8% vs. 75.3%; P = 0.028). Definitive cytological diagnosis times were longer in predominantly cystic nodules compared to predominantly solid nodules (376 s vs. 294 s; P = 0.019). Conclusion Predominantly cystic nodules are likely to benefit from repeated nodular sampling until the specimen is declared adequate by an on-site cytopathologist. If a cytopathologist is not available, obtaining more specimens per nodule may achieve desired adequacy ratios.