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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 1006-1009

The significance of enlarged cervical lymph nodes in diagnosing thyroid cancer


Department of Surgery, Division of Endocrine and Oncological Surgery, School of Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Emad Kandil
Department of Surgery, Division of Endocrine and Oncological Surgery, School of Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0973-1482.171360

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Introduction: We aim to investigate the significance of enlarged cervical lymph nodes (ECLN) identified by initial surgeon-performed ultrasound (US) as a tool for determining the risk of malignancy in the patients presenting with suspicious thyroid nodules. Methods: Radiological and surgical reports were retrospectively reviewed for the patients with suspicious thyroid nodules who underwent thyroidectomy and preoperative comprehensive neck US. Ultrasonographic features of the identified cervical lymph nodes were correlated with the final pathology report. Patients with malignancy other than papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) were excluded. Results: The study consisted of 440 patients. On final pathology, PTC was found in 142 patients (32.3%), the remaining 298 (67.7%) exhibited benign findings. ECLN (>1 cm) were found in 66 (46.5%) patient with PTC compared to only 53 (17.8%) patients with benign nodules (P < 0.001). Of the 119 patients with ECLN, 54.6% had benign appearing ECLN with no suspicious features, 26.1% had one suspicious feature, and 19.3% had more than one suspicious features. Benign appearing ECLN had a positive predictive value (PPV) of 41.54%, negative predictive value (NPV) of 59.02%, sensitivity of 51.92%, and specificity of 48.65% in predicting malignancy as opposed to the absence of ECLN. While as opposed to benign looking ECLN, ECLN with only one suspicious feature had a PPV of 70.97%, NPV of 50.00%, sensitivity of 33.33%, and specificity of 83.02%, and ECLN with two or more suspicious feature had a PPV of 73.91%, NPV of 48.96%, sensitivity of 25.76%, and specificity of 88.68%. Conclusion: ECLN are associated with an increased likelihood of thyroid malignancy in the patients undergoing evaluation of a suspicious nodule. The risk of malignancy in thyroid nodules increases with the presence of suspicious ultrasonographic features on cervical lymph nodes.


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