Objective: To evaluate through a systematic review and meta-analysis the malignancy rates of thyroid incidentalomas identified in adults by 18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography, computed tomography (18-FDG PET-CT) imaging studies.
Data sources: The literature search was conducted using OVID Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, Pubmed, and reference list review (inception to April 2013) by 2 independent review authors.
Review methods: Studies with adults undergoing 18-FDG PET scan identifying a thyroid incidentaloma with definitive histological or cytological results reported were included.
Results: Thirty-one studies with a total of 197,296 PET studies and 3659 focal thyroid incidentalomas were identified with 1341 having definitive cytopathology or histopathology. The pooled proportion of malignancy was calculated as 19.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 15.3%-24.7%) with 15.4% (95% CI, 11.4%-20.0%) of the total cases being papillary thyroid cancer. Distant metastases represented 1.1% (95% CI, 0.6%-1.8%) of the total cases.
Conclusions: Our systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that the incidence of malignancy is high in thyroid incidentalomas identified through 18-FDG PET imaging studies. Thyroid incidentalomas identified through 18-FDG PET require thorough investigation.
Keywords: incidental findings; papillary thyroid cancer; positron emission tomography; systematic review; thyroid.
© American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation 2014.