Background: Although the concept of surgeon-performed fine needle aspiration of thyroid nodules is established, experience with surgeon-performed lymph node fine needle aspiration is scant. We aimed to study the efficacy of surgeon-performed lymph node fine needle aspiration in patients with thyroid pathologic conditions.
Methods: This is an institutional review board-approved study of patients with thyroid pathologic conditions who underwent surgeon-performed lymph node fine needle aspiration between 2002 and 2017. Efficacy and utility were analyzed.
Results: A total of 201 patients with benign nodular goiter (n = 30) and thyroid cancer (n = 200) underwent 230 lymph node fine needle aspirations (89 during preoperative workup, 141 at postoperative follow-up). Insufficient aspiration rate was 6% and indeterminate cytologic results 3%. In 91% of patients with suspicious lymph nodes, definite diagnosis could be obtained by fine needle aspiration; 51% (n = 118) of fine needle aspirations indicated metastasis from thyroid cancer and 40% (n = 91) benign findings. Sensitivity and specificity of lymph node fine needle aspiration in diagnosing nodal metastasis were 92% and 89%, respectively. Cytologic testing and thyroglobulin washout indicated 95% concordance. On logistic regression, spherical shape, microcalcifications, cystic appearance, and loss of hilum on ultrasound independently predicted lymph node metastasis.
Conclusion: Our data indicate that an adequate surgeon-performed lymph node fine needle aspiration is highly accurate in diagnosing nodal status in thyroid pathologic conditions. We recommend adoption of this technique, when feasible, to develop an efficient, comprehensive thyroid practice.
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