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Diagnostic accuracy of palpation-guided and image-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy of the thyroid

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June 1, 2005
by Steven L. Goudy, MD; Michael B. Flynn, MD
We conducted a retrospective study to compare the sensitivity and specificity of traditional palpation-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) performed by clinicians and pathologists with that of image-guided FNAB performed by radiologists for the evaluation of thyroid nodules. We reviewed the medical records of 89 patients who had undergone thyroid FNAB and subsequent surgical excision and pathology. Of this group, 58 patients had undergone palpation-guided FNAB performed by a clinician, 20 had undergone palpation-guided FNAB performed by a pathologist, and 11 had undergone image-guided FNAB performed by a radiologist. The sensitivity of the three techniques was 86, 100, and 100%, respectively, and the specificity was 78, 94, and 44%; there were no statistically significant differences in sensitivity or specificity among the three groups. Our data indicate that FNAB of the thyroid can be performed with equal reliability by clinicians, pathologists, and radiologists.

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