Drivers of the decision to biopsy and follow-up of small suspicious thyroid nodules

Natalia Genere, Maria Daniela Hurtado, Tiffany Cortes, Shobana Athimulam, Ruaa Al Ward, Matthew R. Callstrom, Marius N. Stan, John C. Morris, Juan P. Brito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: In 2015, the updated American Thyroid Association (ATA) guidelines recommended observation for suspicious subcentimeter thyroid nodules, based on their indolent course. We aimed to evaluate the frequency of biopsy in suspicious thyroid nodules since the introduction of these guidelines, including factors contributing to clinical decision-making in a tertiary care center. Methods: We conducted a retrospective study of patients in the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, with new, subcentimeter suspicious thyroid nodules (by report or by sonographic features) between March, 2015, and November, 2017, not previously biopsied. Results: We identified 141 nodules in 129 patients: mean age 58.1 ± 14.1 years, 74% female, 87% Caucasian. The frequency of biopsy in suspicious thyroid nodules was 39%. Ultrasound features that were the strongest predictors for biopsy on multivariate analysis included: nodule volume (odds ratio [OR] 37.3 [7.5-188.7]), radiology recommendation for biopsy (OR 2.6 [1.8-3.9]) and radiology report of the nodule as "suspicious"(OR 2.1 [1.4-3.2]). Patient's age and degree of comorbidities did not change the likelihood for biopsy, nor did it vary by clinician type or how the nodule was initially found (incidentally or not incidentally). Among 86 nodules that were not biopsied, 41% had no specific follow-up recommendations. Conclusion: One third of suspicious thyroid nodules underwent biopsy since the release of updated ATA guidelines. Factors driving thyroid biopsy seem to be associated with nodule characteristics but not with patient factors including age and comorbidities. Further studies and development of decision aides may be helpful in providing individualized approaches for suspicious thyroid nodules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-868
Number of pages12
JournalEndocrine Practice
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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