Background: The use of molecular tests as an adjunct to FNA diagnosis of thyroid nodules has been increasing. However, the true impact of these tests on surgical practice has not been demonstrated. This study examines the usefulness of molecular testing on surgical management decisions in patients referred for thyroid surgery at a tertiary care center. Methods: Clinical information was collected from patients who presented to Johns Hopkins Hospital for surgical consultation regarding a thyroid nodule and who underwent molecular testing between August 2009 and March 2013. Tests included an RNA-based gene expression classifier, a DNA-based somatic mutation panel, BRAF, NRAS, and/or RET/PTC translocation. A surgical management algorithm was created by consensus of four thyroid surgeons. Postsurgical pathology analysis in each case was then used to judge the appropriateness of the surgical decision-making and the usefulness of preoperative molecular testing, in guiding surgical planning. Results: Of 114 patients assessed by preoperative molecular testing, 87 (72 %) underwent surgery. Surgical management was altered in nine (10 %) patients on the basis of molecular testing. Of these, surgical management change was appropriate, relative to the postoperative pathology analysis, for three patients and inappropriate for six patients. Conclusions: In this study, molecular testing of thyroid nodule did not alter the surgical management of the majority of patients with thyroid nodules. These results indicate that molecular testing may be overused in patients for whom the results would not change surgical management. Furthermore, our data question the usefulness of the molecular tests examined in guiding preoperative surgical decision-making.
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