Objectives: Follicular neoplasm/suspected follicular neoplasm (FN/FNS) Bethesda Category (BC)-4 group cases are known as the gray zone. Nodules diagnosed in cytology are excised. However, very few of these nodules are malignant. Our aim is to investigate the usability of clinical-radiological-pathological parameters to reduce unnecessary surgery. In addition, we questioned the benefit of repeating fine-needle aspiration biopsy (rFNAB) in these nodules, which is not recommended, but performed for clinical or patient-related reasons.
Methods: The files of all thyroid FNAB patients conducted in our institution between January 2014 and September 2020 were scanned in the database. In our study, 185 (5.1%) nodules with cytology results of which were classified as FN/FNS were identified among 3624 nodules that were applied FNAB during this period. Twenty-eight patients were excluded from the study group. 157 nodules belonging to 157 patients between the ages of 21 and 82 years who were operated and met the study criteria were identified from patients with these nodules. The files of all patients were scanned and the results of age, gender, ultrasonographic nodule characteristics, FNAB repeat, type of surgery, and postoperative pathology were recorded. All data were analyzed by comparing them with nodule features. SPSS 15.0 for Windows program was used for statistical analysis.
Results: A significant correlation was found between the incidence of malignancy and male gender and hypervascularization (p=0.017 and p=0.002, respectively). Malignancy was less in nodules larger than 2 cm (p=0.014). There was no relationship between other clinical and radiological features and malignancy. In 29 nodules with rFNAB, a significant correlation was found between malignancy and advanced age (52.9-years-old), presence of nodules smaller than 2 cm and hypervascularization (p=0.047, p=0.047, and p=0.030, respectively).
Conclusion: We recommend careful review of patients with hypervascular, hypoechogenic, and microcalcific BC-4 nodules (male gender and older patients at greater risk). Because of the serious risk of malignancy, patients with these features should be prepared for patient management with total thyroidectomy after examination with frozen section applied to the nodule during the operation.
Keywords: Bethesda; FN/SFN category; repeat fine-needle aspiration biopsy; suspicious USG features; thyroid.
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