Imaging of Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2018 Mar;39(3):547-551. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A5487. Epub 2017 Dec 14.


Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is fatal if unresectable. However, improved survival has been reported after gross total resection and multimodality therapy. In this report, we describe the contrast-enhanced high-resolution CT characteristics of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma in 57 patients. Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma presented as a large neck mass with necrosis in 82% of cases. The tumors demonstrated common extrathyroidal extension (91%). Sixty-two percent of tumors demonstrated calcification. Visceral space invasion involved the esophagus (62%), trachea (57%), and larynx (29%). Carotid artery encasement was present in 42%, and 43% involved the internal jugular vein. Sixty-three percent had lateral compartment lymphadenopathy; 58% of these nodes were necrotic, and 11% were cystic. No metastatic nodes had calcification. Central compartment lymphadenopathy was seen in 56% of cases, and lateral retropharyngeal lymphadenopathy was detected in 12%. Knowledge of these imaging features aids in guiding the approach to the initial tissue diagnosis with either fine-needle aspiration or core biopsy, assessing the feasibility of surgical resection, and determining prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thyroid Carcinoma, Anaplastic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Carcinoma, Anaplastic / pathology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*