Surgeon volume and adequacy of thyroidectomy for differentiated thyroid cancer

Surgery. 2014 Dec;156(6):1453-59; discussion 1460. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2014.08.024. Epub 2014 Nov 11.


Introduction: We aimed to determine influence of surgeon volume on (1) frequency of appropriate initial surgery for differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) and (2) completeness of resection.

Methods: We reviewed all initial thyroidectomies (Tx; lobectomy and total) performed in a health system during 2011; surgeons were grouped by number of Tx cases per year. For patients with histologic DTC ≥ 1 cm, surgeon volume was correlated with initial extent of the operation, and markers of complete resection including uptake on I(123) prescan, thyrotropin-stimulated thyroglobulin levels, and I(131) dose administered.

Results: Of 1,249 patients who underwent Tx by 42 surgeons, 29% had DTC ≥ 1 cm without distant metastasis. At a threshold of ≥ 30 Tx per year, surgeons were more likely to perform initial total Tx for DTC ≥ 1 cm (P = .01), and initial resection was more complete as measured by all 3 quantitative markers. For patients with advanced stage disease, a threshold of ≥ 50 Tx per year was needed before observing improvements in I(123) uptake (P = .004).

Conclusion: Surgeons who perform ≥ 30 Tx a year are more likely to undertake the appropriate initial operation and have more complete initial resection for DTC patients. Surgeon volume is an essential consideration in optimizing outcomes for DTC patients, and even higher thresholds (≥ 50 Tx/year) may be necessary for patients with advanced disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Clinical Competence
  • Databases, Factual
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Selection
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surgeons / statistics & numerical data
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / mortality
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Thyroidectomy / adverse effects
  • Thyroidectomy / methods*
  • Thyroidectomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Workforce