• follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma;
  • papillary thyroid carcinoma;
  • fine-needle aspiration;
  • thyroid cytology


Diagnosis of follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (FVPTC) by ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA) is challenging. In this retrospective review, we evaluated triage efficacy (i.e., potential for triggering surgical intervention) in 44 archived FNA biopsies of surgically confirmed FVPTC obtained between December 2006 and December 2008. We compared the original FNA diagnoses with reclassified diagnoses based on 2007 National Cancer Institute (NCI)/Bethesda recommendations, and reviewed FNA cytologic features. Original FNA diagnoses included colloid nodule (7%, 3/44), atypical follicular cells (5%, 2/44), follicular lesion (11%, 5/44), follicular neoplasm (16%, 7/44), suspicious for malignancy/PTC (27%, 12/44), and papillary thyroid carcinoma (34%, 15/44). Reclassified diagnoses included indeterminate (5%, 2/44), colloid nodule (7%, 3/44), atypical cells of undetermined significance [ACUS] (7%, 3/44), Hurthle cell neoplasm (2%, 1/44), follicular neoplasm (7%, 3/44), suspicious for malignancy/PTC (25%, 11/44), and PTC (48%, 21/44). Triage efficacy was 77% (34/44) for original diagnoses versus 82% (36/44) for reclassified FNA diagnoses. We frequently observed cytologic features of PTC, such as nuclear grooves and fine chromatin; conversely, intranuclear inclusions, though present in 77% cases, were scant. Our review findings suggest that lack of characteristic cytologic features of PTC,coexistence with other thyroid lesions, and small tumor size arethe major obstacles to FNA diagnosis of FVPTC. Reclassification of thyroid FNA diagnoses does not significantly improve triage efficacy. Furthermore, FNA diagnoses of follicular neoplasm and suspicious for malignancy are valuable in patients with FVPTC because they trigger triage toward surgical intervention. Diagn. Cytopathol. 2012;40:E69–E73. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.