The usefulness of serial ultrasound in thyroid mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2022 Dec 16:13:1054584. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2022.1054584. eCollection 2022.


Background: Mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma is an extranodal lymphoma with an indolent natural course. The thyroid gland is an uncommon site of involvement. We aimed to investigate serial ultrasound features and the disease progression during the clinical course of thyroid MALT lymphoma.

Methods: We searched our hospital's pathology database (5,418 patients with thyroid malignancy) between January 2000 and July 2022. The medical records and serial ultrasounds of 11 patients with 12 thyroid MALT lymphoma foci were analyzed retrospectively.

Results: An enlarging neck mass, dyspnea, B symptoms, and neck lymphadenopathy were seen at diagnosis in 9 (9/11, 81.8%), 3 (3/11, 27.3%), 2 (2/11, 18.2%), and 9 (9/11, 81.8%) cases, respectively. Eleven cases were concomitant Hashimoto thyroiditis. Common ultrasound features included bilateral or unilateral asymmetric goiter or large, solid, and very hypoechoic nodules (11/12, 91.7%) interspersed with linear, reticular hyperechoic, and enhanced posterior echoes (11/12, 91.7%), and neck lymph node involvement (10/11, 90.9%). The Thyroid Imaging and Reporting Data System (TIRADS) categories showed higher diagnostic accuracy (11/12, 91.7%) than real-time ultrasound (2/12, 16.7%) in evaluating thyroid lesions for recommendation of fine-needle aspiration (FNA). Serial ultrasound showed self-limiting changes in three cases, relapse in three cases after subtotal thyroidectomy and chemotherapy, large cell transformation (LCT) in one case after left lobectomy, partial remission in one case, and complete remission after chemo/radiation in four cases; progression to enlarged thyroid nodules occurred in three cases without treatment, with no obvious change observed after diagnosis. Three patients died during follow-up.

Conclusion: On sonograms, solid large thyroid nodules or goiter with very hypoechoic and enhanced posterior echoes in the setting of Hashimoto thyroiditis should raise suspicion for MALT lymphoma. TIRADS categories can improve the ultrasound diagnostic efficacy for malignancy. Serial ultrasound examinations demonstrated self-limiting and indolent natures of thyroid MALT lymphoma.

Keywords: Hashimoto thyroiditis; follow-up; mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT); thyroid imaging and reporting data system (TIRADS); thyroid lymphoma; ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Goiter*
  • Hashimoto Disease* / complications
  • Hashimoto Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone* / complications
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone* / diagnostic imaging
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone* / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Thyroid Nodule* / complications