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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Dec;91(12):4943-7. Epub 2006 Sep 12.

Hook needle-guided excision of recurrent differentiated thyroid cancer in previously operated neck compartments: a safe technique for small, nonpalpable recurrent disease.

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  • 1Endocrine Surgical Oncology, University of California/Mount Zion Medical Center, CA 94143-1674,USA.



As a result of more sensitive techniques to detect recurrent thyroid cancer, the number of patients presenting with small, nonpalpable recurrent thyroid cancer in cervical lymph nodes is increasing. Surgical excision of nonpalpable recurrent thyroid cancer can be difficult, particularly in a previously operated area.


The objective of this study was to investigate whether preoperative insertion of a hook needle under ultrasound guidance is useful in neck reoperations for recurrent thyroid cancer.


Ten consecutive patients presenting over a 4-month period with nonpalpable, ultrasound-visible, fine needle biopsy-proven recurrent thyroid cancer in previously operated neck compartment(s) were studied.


We measured whether it was technically possible to insert a hook needle preoperatively, rate of negative neck exploration, and complication rate.


The hook needle was inserted in seven patients. In three patients, the hook needle was not inserted; one patient had palpable disease 4 months after the preoperative clinic visit, one patient had a tumor too close to the carotid artery, and one patient had multiple bilateral foci of recurrent disease in the central neck. One patient had bleeding after insertion of the needle due to a penetration of an anterior jugular vein that was easily managed at neck reexploration. No other complication occurred during the hook needle insertion, and the only surgical complication was a transient recurrent nerve palsy. All pathology reports showed malignant disease.


Hook needle-guided excision of recurrent thyroid cancer is feasible and appears to be a promising tool for safe and successful reoperation of patients with small recurrent thyroid cancer in cervical lymph nodes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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