Measuring calcitonin in washout of the needle in patients undergoing fine needle aspiration with suspicious medullary thyroid cancer



Calcitonin measurement in washout of the needle after aspiration (WO-Ct) has been rarely evaluated. Here we analyzed the role of WO-Ct in a series of subjects who underwent fine needle aspiration (FNA) with suspicious medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). Twenty-one patients referred following elevated serum calcitonin (S-Ct) or suspicious MTC by cytology. All patients underwent re-evaluation of S-Ct, FNA, and measurement of WO-Ct. S-Ct and WO-Ct were assessed by chemiluminescence assay (IMMULITE 2000, Diagnostic Products Corporation, USA). S-Ct showed elevated value in six subjects (mean 368.8 ± 373.9 pg/ml), of which three cases were cytologically classified as Class 5. WO-Ct obtained in this group (304.0 ± 309.3 pg/ml) was no different from S-Ct. After surgery MTC was confirmed in all patients. In the other 15 patients MTC was excluded by cytology or histology. Two subjects had moderately skewed S-Ct with nonmedullary histology. In the remaining 13 patients S-Ct resulted normal (6.2 ± 5.6 pg/ml) and WO-Ct low (2.9 ± 2.2 pg/ml). Significant (two-tailed P < 0.05, r2 = 0.27, 95% confidence interval = 0.017–0.81) correlation was found between S-Ct and WO-Ct in nonmedullary patients but not in MTC patients. This study showed that WO-Ct can play a role in diagnosing primary and metastatic MTC. The procedure is easy, cost effective, and should be used in patients undergoing FNA with elevated S-Ct. Further studies and guidelines for the method are needed to use this technique in clinical routine. Until this any institute should use itself cut-off. Diagn. Cytopathol. 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.