Background: Our Thyroid-Multidisciplinary Clinic is a large referral site for thyroid diseases. Thyroid biopsies are mainly performed for thyroid cancer screening. Yet, Hashimoto thyroiditis (HT) is being too frequently diagnosed. The prevalence of HT is reported as 0.3-1.2% or twice the prevalence of type 1 diabetes. However, the prevalence of HT confirmed by cytology is still uncertain. To evaluate different aspects of thyroid physiopathology including prevalence of Hashimoto's, a database of clinical features, ultrasound images and cytology results of patients referred for FNA of thyroid nodules was prospectively developed.
Methods: We retrospectively studied 811 consecutive patients for whom ultrasound guided thyroid FNA biopsies were performed at our clinic over 2.5 year period (Mar/2006-Sep/2008).
Results: The analysis of our database revealed that from 761 patients, 102 (13.4%) had HT, from whom 56 (7.4%) were euthyroid or had sub-clinical (non-hypothyroid) disease, and 46 (6%) were clinically hypothyroid.
Conclusions: This is the first study to show such a high prevalence of HT diagnosed by ultrasound-guided FNA. More strikingly, the prevalence of euthyroid HT, appears to be >5% similar to that of type 2 diabetes. Based on our results, there might be a need to follow up on cytological Hashimoto's to monitor for thyroid failure, especially in high risk states, like pregnancy. The potential risk for thyroid cancer in patients with biopsy-proven inflammation of thyroid epithelium remains to be established prospectively. However, it may explain the increased risk for thyroid cancer observed in patients with elevated but within normal TSH.