Thyroid fine needle aspiration: How to improve clinicians' confidence and performance with the technique
Abstract Studies from single institutions report an acceptable accuracy rate for thyroid fine needle aspiration (FNA). However, FNA accuracy is much lower in many other centers in Europe and the USA and large multicenter studies indicate that the clinicians’ confidence in the FNA technique remains low. One explanation for this is that there is an excess of inadequate and indeterminate findings for a follicular nodule at FNA cytology. In a University Hospital with large and qualified experience on thyroid nodule diagnosis, a review of 320 slides with an FNA diagnosis of indeterminate follicular nodule from different minor Italian Hospitals led to a different diagnosis in 61%. Since ancillary thyroid imaging may be overutilized and only a few authors report a proportion of excised nodules lower than 10%, we suspect that use of the FNA procedure is suboptimal. Several techniques are reported to improve the performance of thyroid FNA. Among these are tumor markers and large needle aspiration biopsy (LNAB). Immunodetection of the tumor marker galectin-3 has been evaluated by large multinational studies. Analysis of LNAB specimens reduces the number of inadequate FNA findings, improves the diagnostic determination of indeterminate follicular FNA findings and represents a better substrate for the determination of galectin-3. Therefore, we propose that clinical practice guidelines reflect these adjuvant techniques to thyroid FNA in order to improve selection criteria for thyroid nodule surgery.