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J Thyroid Res. 2011;2011:621839. doi: 10.4061/2011/621839. Epub 2011 May 30.

Lymph node thyroglobulin measurement in diagnosis of neck metastases of differentiated thyroid carcinoma.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine and Thyroid Unit, Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, Street Ospedale 12, 6500 Bellinzona, Switzerland.



Enlarged cervical lymph nodes (LNs) in patients with thyroid cancer are usually assessed by fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC). Thyroglobulin (Tg) is frequently elevated in malignant FNAC needle wash specimens (FNAC-Tg). The objectives of the study were to (1) determine an appropriate diagnostic cut-off for FNAC-Tg levels (2) compare FNAC and FNAC-Tg results in a group of 108 patients affected by differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC).


A total of 126 consecutive FNACs were performed on enlarged LNs and the final diagnosis was confirmed by surgical pathology examination or clinical follow-up. The best FNAC-Tg cut-off level was selected by receiver operating curve analysis, and diagnostic performances of FNAC and FNAC-Tg were compared.


The rate of FNAC samples adequate for cytological examination was 77% in contrast FNAC-Tg available in 100% of aspirates (P < .01). The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of FNAC were 71%, 80%, 74%, 100%, 80%, and 94%, respectively. The most appropriate cut-off value for the diagnosis of thyroid cancer metastatic LN was 1.1‚ÄČng/mL (sensitivity 100%, specificity 100%).


The diagnostic performance of needle washout FNAC-Tg measurement with a cut-off of 1.1‚ÄČng/mL compared favorably with cytology in detecting DTC node metastases.

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