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World J Surg Oncol. 2014 Mar 24;12:61. doi: 10.1186/1477-7819-12-61.

The use of core needle biopsy as first-line in diagnosis of thyroid nodules reduces false negative and inconclusive data reported by fine-needle aspiration.

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Department of Surgical and Medical Sciences, Sapienza University, Ospedale S, Andrea, Rome, Italy.



The reported reliability of core needle biopsy (CNB) is high in assessing thyroid nodules after inconclusive fine-needle aspiration (FNA) attempts. However, first-line use of CNB for nodules considered at risk by ultrasonography (US) has yet to be studied. The aim of this study were: 1) to evaluate the potential merit of using CNB first-line instead of conventional FNA in thyroid nodules with suspicious ultrasonographic features; 2) to compare CNB and FNA as a first-line diagnostic procedure in thyroid lesions at higher risk of cancer.


Seventy-seven patients with a suspicious-appearing, recently discovered solid thyroid nodule were initially enrolled as study participants. No patients had undergone prior thyroid fine-needle aspiration/biopsy. Based on study design, all patients were proposed to undergo CNB as first-line diagnostic aspiration, while those patients refusing to do so underwent conventional FNA.


Five patients refused the study, and a total of 31 and 41 thyroid nodules were subjected to CNB and FNA, respectively. At follow-up, the overall rate of malignancy was of 80% (CNB, 77%; FNA, 83%). However, the diagnostic accuracy of CNB (97%) was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than that of FNA (78%). In one benign lesion, CNB was inconclusive. Four (12%) of the 34 cancers of the FNA group were not initially diagnosed because of false negative (N = 1), indeterminate (N = 2) or not adequate (N = 1) samples.


CNB can reduce the false negative and inconclusive results of conventional FNA and should be considered a first-line method in assessing solid thyroid nodules at high risk of malignancy.

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