Thyroid | 2019
The Identification of Intraoperative Risk Factors Can Reduce, but Not Exclude, the Need for Completion Thyroidectomy in Low-Risk Papillary Thyroid Cancer Patients
Background: The extent of initial surgical resection for low-risk papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) remains debatable. Since the 2015 American Thyroid Association (ATA) guidelines, several retrospective studies have reported that 40–60% of patients initially treated with lobectomy would require a completion thyroidectomy (CTx) due to high-risk pathological features (HRFs). These studies are limited by variable preoperative stratification and inability to quantify the value of intraoperative assessment. The study objectives were to determine whether diligent preoperative and intraoperative assessment improves the appropriateness of initial surgery for low-risk PTCs and whether varying the criteria for lobectomy reduces the need for CTx. Methods: A prospectively collected province-wide database was analyzed over a 10-year period (2008–2017) for patients who underwent a total thyroidectomy (TT) for PTC without preoperative HRFs. All patients had preoperative ultrasound and fine-needle aspirates. Unique to this database are mandatory synoptic operative fields that identify intraoperative risk factors such as positive lymph nodes and local invasion. Results: In total, 74% of patients (709/959) were deemed eligible for lobectomy. Of those eligible, 149 (21%) had intraoperative risk factors that would necessitate conversion to TT at the initial operation. A further 209 (30%) would require CTx due to HRFs on final pathology. Varying the preoperative criteria for lobectomy did not significantly affect intraoperative conversion or CTx rates. Conclusions: Although intraoperative assessment reduced the need for CTx in 21%, up to 30% of patients would still require a second operation. Altering the preoperative criteria does not influence this outcome. Patients deemed eligible for lobectomy should be informed that despite careful pre- and intraoperative assessment, there is up to a 30% risk of requiring CTx.