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Ann Surg Oncol. 2013 Feb;20(2):653-9. doi: 10.1245/s10434-012-2624-8. Epub 2012 Sep 7.

Postablation stimulated thyroglobulin level is an important predictor of biochemical complete remission after reoperative cervical neck dissection in persistent/recurrent papillary thyroid carcinoma.

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Department of Surgery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.



The efficacy of reoperative cervical neck dissection (RND) in achieving biochemical complete remission (BCR) (or postreoperation stimulated thyroglobulin [sTg] of <0.5 ng/mL) remains unclear in persistent/recurrent papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). We hypothesized that lower postablation sTg levels would indicate a higher rate of BCR after RND. Our study examined the association between postablation sTg and BCR after one or more RNDs.


Of 199 patients who underwent RND, 81 patients were eligible. The postablation sTg levels (≤2 and >2 ng/mL) were correlated with the postreoperation sTg levels after RNDs. Patients' clinicopathological characteristics, operative findings, and subsequent RNDs were compared between those with BCR after RNDs and those without.


Those with postablation sTg levels of ≤2 ng/mL had significantly higher BCR rate after the first RND (77.8 vs. 5.6 %, p < 0.001), overall BCR after one or more RNDs (77.8 vs. 9.3 %, p < 0.001), and better 5-year recurrence-free survival after the first RND (80.0 vs. 60.1 %, p = 0.049) than those with postablation sTg levels of >2 ng/mL. Overall BCR gradually decreased after each subsequent RND. Postablation sTg significantly correlated with postreoperation sTg (ρ = 0.509, p < 0.001). After adjusting for the number of metastatic lymph nodes excised at first RND and presence of extranodal extension, postablation sTg of ≤ 0.2 ng/mL was the only independent factor for BCR after one or more RNDs (odds ratio 37.0, 95 % confidence interval 5.68-250.0, p = 0.001).


Only a third of patients who underwent one or more RNDs for persistent/recurrent PTC had BCR afterward. Postablation sTg level was an independent factor for BCR. Completeness of the initial operation is important for the subsequent success of RND.

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