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Radiology. 2013 Jul;268(1):274-80. doi: 10.1148/radiol.13122247. Epub 2013 Mar 22.

Thyroid nodules with initially nondiagnostic cytologic results: the role of core-needle biopsy.

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  • 1Department of Radiology and Research Institute of Radiology, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Asan Medical Center, 86 Asanbyeongwon-Gil, Songpa-Gu, Seoul 138-736, Korea.



To evaluate the role of core-needle biopsy (CNB) in thyroid nodules with nondiagnostic results at previous fine-needle aspiration (FNA).


From October 2008 to July 2011, 155 nodules from 155 patients (37 men, 118 women) with a mean age of 51.8 years (age range, 22-76 years) with nondiagnostic results at previous FNA were reviewed retrospectively. The Bethesda system for reporting thyroid cytopathologic results was used to assign FNA and CNB findings. Malignant nodules (n = 37) were diagnosed after surgery. Benign nodules (n = 79) were diagnosed either after surgery, with benign findings after FNA and/or CNB that had been repeated at least twice, or after benign cytology findings at FNA or CNB with a stable size at follow-up. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of ultrasonographically guided CNB were evaluated.


At CNB, two nodules (1.3%) showed nondiagnostic results, and 135 nodules (87.1%) had conclusive diagnoses. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of core biopsies for the detection of malignancy were 94.6% (35 of 37), 100% (79 of 79), 100% (35 of 35), 97.5% (79 of 81), and 98.3% (114 of 116), respectively. For 28 nodules, nondiagnostic results were found after two or more FNA procedures; however, diagnostic surgery was performed in only one patient.


CNB of the thyroid nodule demonstrates high rates of conclusive and accurate diagnoses in patients for whom previous FNA results were nondiagnostic, thereby reducing the need for unnecessary diagnostic surgery.

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