Analysis of malignant thyroid nodules that do not meet ACR TI-RADS criteria for fine-needle aspiration

William D. Middleton, Sharlene A. Teefey, Franklin N. Tessler, Jenny K. Hoang, Carl C. Reading, Jill E. Langer, Michael D. Beland, Margaret M. Szabunio, Terry S. Desser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

OBJECTIVE. Compared with other guidelines, the American College of Radiology (ACR) Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System (TI-RADS) has decreased the number of nodules for which fine-needle aspiration is recommended. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the characteristics of malignant nodules that would not be biopsied when the ACR TI-RADS recommendations are followed. MATERIALS AND METHODS. We retrospectively reviewed a total of 3422 thyroid nodules for which a definitive cytologic diagnosis, a definitive histologic diagnosis, or both diagnoses as well as diagnostic ultrasound (US) examinations were available. All nodules were categorized using the ACR TI-RADS, and they were divided into three groups according to the recommendation received: fine-needle aspiration (group 1), follow-up US examination (group 2), or no further evaluation (group 3). RESULTS. Of the 3422 nodules, 352 were malignant. Of these, 240 nodules were assigned to group 1, whereas 72 were assigned to group 2 and 40 were included in group 3. Sixteen of the 40 malignant nodules in group 3 were 1 cm or larger, and, on the basis of analysis of the sonographic features described in the ACR TI-RADS, these nodules were classified as having one of five ACR TI-RADS risk levels (TR1–TR5), with one nodule classified as a TR1 nodule, eight as TR2 nodules, and seven as TR3 nodules. If the current recommendation of no follow-up for TR2 nodules was changed to follow-up for nodules 2.5 cm or larger, seven additional malignant nodules and 316 additional benign nodules would receive a recommendation for follow-up. If the current size threshold (1.5 cm) used to recommend US follow-up for TR3 nodules was decreased to 1.0 cm, seven additional malignant nodules and 118 additional benign nodules would receive a recommendation for follow-up. CONCLUSION. With use of the ACR TI-RADS, most malignant nodules that would not be biopsied would undergo US follow-up, would be smaller than 1 cm, or would both undergo US follow-up and be smaller than 1 cm. Adjusting size thresholds to decrease the number of missed malignant nodules that are 1 cm or larger would result in a substantial increase in the number of benign nodules undergoing follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-478
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Roentgenology
Volume216
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • ACR TI-RADS
  • Imaging
  • Reporting system
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid nodule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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