The Italian Consensus for the Classification and Reporting of Thyroid Cytology: Cytohistologic and molecular correlations on 37,371 nodules from a single institution

Cancer Cytopathol. 2022 Nov;130(11):899-912. doi: 10.1002/cncy.22618. Epub 2022 Jul 5.


Background: The Italian Consensus for the Classification and Reporting of Thyroid Cytology (ICCRTC) includes six diagnostic categories (TIR 1/1C, TIR 2, TIR 3A, TIR 3B, TIR 4, and TIR 5), each indicating a different risk of malignancy. The objective of this monocentric retrospective study was to evaluate the distribution of the ICCRTC classes at the authors' institution and assess their cytohistologic correlations.

Methods: The authors retrospectively collected 37,371 consecutive cytologic reports of thyroid nodules and described the clinical-pathologic features of the different cytologic categories. The cytologic diagnoses also were compared with histologic outcomes in a subset of patients.

Results: The cytologic classes were distributed as follows: nondiagnostic, 15.6%; benign, 66.5%; low-risk indeterminate, 10% (TIR 3A); high-risk indeterminate, 3.5% (TIR 3B); suspicious, 1.7%; and malignant, 2.6%. According to histology, the risk of malignancy was very high in the nondiagnostic category (29.8%), with young male patients more exposed to malignancy, and it was relatively high among benign (7.8%) and indeterminate nodules (32.5% in TIR 3A; 52.1% in TIR 3B), mainly because of the high prevalence of follicular architecture in malignant tumors. On histology, the malignancy rates were 92.4% and 99.3% for the suspicious and malignant categories, respectively; aggressive variants of papillary thyroid carcinoma were mostly diagnosed in these categories.

Conclusions: In this series, nondiagnostic nodules showed high prevalence and, surprisingly, high malignancy rates. Malignant tumors with follicular architecture represented a diagnostic pitfall in benign and indeterminate nodules. The suspicious and malignant categories had high specificity for malignancy. Importantly, the ICCRTC had high reliability for identifying preoperatively aggressive histotypes of thyroid carcinoma.

Keywords: cytology; fine-needle aspiration; histology; thyroid cancer; thyroid nodules.

MeSH terms

  • Consensus
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Thyroid Nodule* / diagnosis
  • Thyroid Nodule* / pathology