Cytopathologic analysis of thyroid lesions in the pediatric population

Gregory A. Hosler, Ian Clark, Maureen F. Zakowski, William H. Westra, Syed Z. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of the thyroid is seldom performed in the pediatric population. Therefore, the clinical utility of thyroid FNA in this patient group has not been adequately addressed. A 15 yr retrospective review of the cytopathology archives at the participating institutions was performed to identify cases of thyroid FNA performed in pediatric patients. The medical records of these cases were reviewed, including the surgical pathology reports of those patients who had subsequently undergone surgical resection. One hundred one specimens from 82 patients were identified. Of these, 40 had a cytopathologic diagnosis of carcinoma, "suspicious" for carcinoma, neoplasm, or atypia, 48 were benign, and 13 were unsatisfactory. Of the 82 patients, 45 underwent partial or total thyroidectomy. Twenty-two (49%) of these were found to harbor a malignant neoplasm (18 papillary carcinomas). The diagnostic sensitivity for identifying a lesion was 87% (26/30) and the diagnostic specificity was 92% (47/51). There were four false-positives and four false-negatives in the review, yielding a positive predictive value of 87% and a negative predictive value of 92%. We conclude that FNA is a useful adjunct to the management of thyroid lesions in the pediatric population, with good diagnostic accuracy. Although thyroid neoplasms are relatively rare in children, our experience demonstrated that 40% of thyroid masses referred for FNA had an interpretation that caused concern, ranging from "atypical" to carcinoma. Additionally, a benign diagnosis by FNA may avoid unnecessary surgery with its potential complications, a significant consideration for this age group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-105
Number of pages5
JournalDiagnostic cytopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Cytopathology
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Papillary carcinoma
  • Pediatric
  • Thyroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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