Thyroid nodules are detected in up to 50 to 60% of healthy subjects. Most nodules do not cause clinically significant symptoms, and as a result, the main challenge in their management is to rule out malignancy, with ultrasonography (US) and fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy serving as diagnostic cornerstones. The key issues discussed in these guidelines are as follows: (1) US-based categorization of the malignancy risk and indications for US-guided FNA (henceforth, FNA), (2) cytologic classification of FNA samples, (3) the roles of immunocytochemistry and molecular testing applied to thyroid FNA, (4) therapeutic options, and (5) follow-up strategy. Thyroid nodule management during pregnancy and in children are also addressed. On the basis of US features, thyroid nodules may be categorized into 3 groups: low-, intermediate- and high-malignancy risk. FNA should be considered for nodules ≤10 mm diameter only when suspicious US signs are present, while nodules ≤5 mm should be monitored rather than biopsied. A classification scheme of 5 categories (nondiagnostic, benign, indeterminate, suspicious for malignancy, or malignant) is recommended for the cytologic report. Indeterminate lesions are further subdivided into 2 subclasses to more accurately stratify the risk of malignancy. At present, no single cytochemical or genetic marker can definitely rule out malignancy in indeterminate nodules. Nevertheless, these tools should be considered together with clinical data, US signs, elastographic pattern, or results of other imaging techniques to improve the management of these lesions. Most thyroid nodules do not require any treatment, and levothyroxine (LT4) suppressive therapy is not recommended. Percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI) should be the first-line treatment option for relapsing, benign cystic lesions, while US-guided thermal ablation treatments may be considered for solid or mixed symptomatic benign thyroid nodules. Surgery remains the treatment of choice for malignant or suspicious nodules. The present document updates previous guidelines released in 2006 and 2010 by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) and Associazione Medici Endocrinologi (AME).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism