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Thyroid incidentaloma detected by fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography: practical management algorithm
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Radiology, Oncology and Radiation Science, Radiology. Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden .
2011 (English)In: World Journal of Surgery, ISSN 0364-2313, E-ISSN 1432-2323, Vol. 35, no 12, 2691-2697 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Our aim was to design a practical algorithm for management of an increasing number of incidental findings of thyroid lesions identified by 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography with computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT).


The reports of 3641 patients examined by FDG-PET/CT for evaluation of nonthyroid cancer were reviewed. The anatomic locations and standardized uptake values (SUV) of any focally increased thyroid FDG uptake were reanalyzed and related to surrounding normal thyroid (TSUVmax/thySUVmean ratio) and liver (TSUVmax/liverSUVmean).


Focal FDG uptakes in the thyroid were reported in 37 cases (1%; 26 women). Neoplastic thyroid lesions were diagnosed in 16 patients: papillary thyroid cancer in 9, follicular neoplasia in 5, and metastatic lesions (lung cancer and squamous cell carcinoma) in 2. Benign lesions were diagnosed in 11 patients. Ten patients with malignancy elsewhere did not undergo thyroid examination. In all, 11 patients underwent thyroid surgery (8 with papillary cancer, 3 with follicular adenoma); the median tumor size was 12 mm (8–40 mm). The TSUVmax/thySUVmean ratio was higher for the malignant lesions [median 5.53 (2.75–30.81) vs. 3.70 (1.82–31.70); P < 0.05], albeit with a considerable overlap between individual patients. The TSUVmax and TSUVmax/liverSUVmean did not differ between groups. The TSUVmax/thySUVmean and / thySUVmean ratios correlated with the tumor size (r = 0.64 and r = 0.66; P < 0.05).


An incidental finding of focal uptake of FDG in the thyroid is associated with a significant risk of thyroid cancer. If the patient would benefit from thyroidectomy if a malignancy were identified, further diagnostic workup with ultrasonography-guided fine-needle aspiration and cytology is recommended.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 35, no 12, 2691-2697 p.
National Category
Clinical Medicine
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-231407DOI: 10.1007/s00268-011-1291-4PubMedID: 21989645OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-231407DiVA: diva2:744518
Available from: 2014-09-08 Created: 2014-09-08 Last updated: 2015-03-26Bibliographically approved

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