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Diagn Cytopathol. 2000 Oct;23(4):233-7.

Fine-needle aspiration of the thyroid: rate and causes of cytohistopathologic discordance.

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Department of Pathology, Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois, USA.


Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of the thyroid gland is a widely utilized, sensitive, specific, and cost-effective method for the evaluation of thyroid nodules. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of thyroid FNA and causes of cytohistological discordance in our institution. Six hundred twenty-five thyroid FNAs obtained from 503 females (mean age, 54) and 122 males (mean age, 51) in whom histopathologic follow-up material was available for review, were analyzed. FNAs were classified as: nondiagnostic, negative, intermediate, and positive for malignancy, and the histopathologic material was categorized as benign or malignant. The review revealed 93% sensitivity and 96% specificity for the FNA diagnoses. The FNA results were diagnostic in 87%, indeterminate in 6%, and nondiagnostic in 7% of the cases. Cytohistologic correlation was achieved in 88% of the cases. The false-negative rate was 4% and the false-positive rate was 8%. The most common pitfalls for false-negative diagnoses consisted of suboptimal material and underdiagnosis of papillary carcinoma due to cystic degeneration. The most common pitfall for false-positive cases was overdiagnosis of follicular neoplasms. Our study confirmed that FNA of thyroid nodules can be performed with high sensitivity and specificity by experienced clinicians or pathologists. The application of strict specimen adequacy rules for FNA interpretation is likely to decrease the rate of false-negative and false-positive diagnoses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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