Patient Compliance With Surveillance of Thyroid Nodules Classified as Atypia of Undetermined Significance

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2022 Jul 1;34894221111097. doi: 10.1177/00034894221111097. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To determine whether thyroid nodule surveillance compliance is influenced by patient demographics or plan type.

Study design: Retrospective case series from 2010 to 2018.

Setting: United States Military Health System.

Methods: There were 481 patients with a thyroid nodule fine-needle aspiration classified as atypia of undetermined significance for whom treatment and follow-up information were available. Demographic information and surveillance plan type were extracted from the medical record and statistical analysis was performed to determine whether these characteristics influenced compliance rates.

Results: A total of 289 nodules were surveilled and 192 diagnostic lobectomies were performed. An initial surveillance plan was documented in 93% (268/289) and 86% (231/268) complied. The most common plans were repeat biopsy in 78% (210/268) or ultrasound in 20% (53/268). A second plan was documented in 88% (204/231) of those who complied with the first. The most common second plans were ultrasound in 87% (178/204) or repeat biopsy in 8% (17/204). Compliance with the second plan was 64% (130/204), significantly lower than with the first (OR 3.6, 95% CI: [2.3, 5.6], P < .0001). Only 45% (130/289) were surveilled twice. Age and gender did not significantly affect compliance rates. Compliance with primary care ultrasound surveillance was 40% (21/52), significantly lower than with a specialist (77% [137/179]; OR 4.8, 95% CI: [2.5, 9.3, P < .0001).

Conclusion: Compliance with surveillance of thyroid nodules classified as atypia of undetermined significance was poor in this military cohort. Ultrasound surveillance by a specialist may be more reliable than with primary care.

Keywords: thyroid neoplasms; thyroid nodule; thyroid surgery; thyroidectomy.