Factors for second non-diagnostic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology in thyroid nodules

Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2023 Dec;84(6):734-738. doi: 10.1016/j.ando.2023.05.008. Epub 2023 Jun 10.


Introduction: Results in fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) of thyroid nodules may be non-diagnostic (ND). In these cases, it is recommended to repeat the FNAC. The aim of our study was to evaluate the influence of demographic, clinical and ultrasound (US) characteristics in the recurrence of an ND result in thyroid nodule FNAC.

Methods: A retrospective study of ND thyroid nodule FNAC was performed for the period 2017-2020. Demographic and clinical data (age, gender, cervical radiotherapy, presence of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and TSH value) and US characteristics (nodule size, echogenicity, composition and microcalcifications) were collected at first ND FNAC.

Results: Out of 230 nodules with first ND FNAC (83% women; mean age 60.2±14.1 years), 195 (84.8%) underwent a second FNAC: 121 benign, 63 non-diagnostic, 9 indeterminate and 2 malignant. Nine (3.9%) underwent surgery, only 1 of which showed malignant histology and 26 (11.3%) remained under US monitoring. Demographically, patients with second ND FNAC were older (63.4±14 vs. 59±14 years; P=0.032). Females had lower risk of second ND FNAC (OR, 0.4, 0.2-0.9; P=0.016); risk of second ND FNAC was higher in patients treated with anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs (OR, 2.2, 1.1-4.7; P=0.03). Previous cervical radiotherapy, family history of thyroid cancer, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and TSH value did not influence the risk of second ND FNAC. On US, nodule echogenicity differed significantly between the ND and diagnostic FNAC, with greater risk of an ND result in hypoechogenic nodules. Microcalcification increased the risk of ND FNAC (OR 2.2, 1.1-4.5; P=0.03). Nodule composition and size did not significantly differ according to ND or diagnostic second FNAC.

Conclusion: Male gender, advanced age, anticoagulant/antiplatelet drug therapy, hypoechogenic nodules and microcalcified nodules are likely factors for second ND FNAC. Nodules with two ND FNACs were rarely malignant, and a more conservative approach in these cases is not unsafe.

Keywords: Fine-needle aspiration cytology; Non-diagnostic cytology; Thyroid nodules.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Neoplasms*
  • Thyroid Nodule* / diagnostic imaging
  • Thyroid Nodule* / pathology
  • Thyroiditis*
  • Thyrotropin
  • Ultrasonography / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional


  • Anticoagulants
  • Thyrotropin