Objective: Whether central lymph node metastasis is a reliable indicator of lateral lymph node metastasis in papillary thyroid carcinoma remains obscure. To investigate the value of central lymph node metastasis for predicting lateral compartment involvement, we performed a meta-analysis of published studies.
Data sources: A systematic literature search of PubMed, EMBASE, and Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure databases was completed, and the reference lists of the identified articles and prior relevant reviews were examined.
Review methods: Two reviewers extracted data and assessed the quality of eligible studies independently. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were pooled through a random effects meta-analysis model.
Results: Twenty-one studies were eligible and further analyzed in this meta-analysis. The risk of lateral lymph node metastasis was significantly higher in the central lymph node-positive group than in the negative group (odds ratio = 7.64, 95% confidence interval: 5.59-10.44), with moderate heterogeneity across studies (P = .007, I(2) = 48.6%). Subgroup analyses and sensitivity analysis suggested that the results were consistent and credible. However, Begg's funnel plot and Egger linear regression test revealed a likelihood of publication bias (P = .000).
Conclusion: This meta-analysis suggests that central lymph node metastasis is valuable for predicting lateral compartment involvement in patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma. For those patients with central lymph node metastasis, additional attention should be paid to the lateral neck, as the risk of lateral lymph node metastasis was significantly higher in the central lymph node-positive group than in the negative group. Further studies regarding appropriate management for patients with high risk of lateral involvement are needed.
Keywords: lymph nodes; lymphatic metastasis; meta-analysis; thyroid neoplasms.
© American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery Foundation 2015.