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Thyroid follicular lesion of undetermined significance: Evaluation of the risk of malignancy using the two-tier sub-classification



The Bethesda 2007 Thyroid Cytology Classification defines follicular lesion of undetermined significance as a heterogeneous category of cases that are not convincingly benign nor sufficiently atypical for a diagnosis of follicular neoplasm or suspicious for malignancy. In our institution, we refer to these cases as indeterminate, and they are further sub-classified into two: (1) low cellularity with predominant microfollicular architecture and absence of colloid (INa) and (2) nuclear features not characteristic of benign lesions (nuclear atypia) (INb). We reviewed these indeterminate cases to document the follow-up trend using this two-tier classification. A search of the cytology records was performed for the period between January 2008 and June 2009. All thyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) cases were reviewed and the ones diagnosed as indeterminate were identified. Correlating follow-up FNA and/or surgical pathology reports were reviewed. The percentage of cases showing a malignancy was calculated. One hundred and seventy-one indeterminate cases were identified, representing 2.8% of the 6,205 thyroid FNA cases examined during the time under review (107 INa, 64 INb). Records of follow-up procedures were available in 106 (61%) cases. Malignancy was identified in 27% of all indeterminate cases. This was disproportionately more in the INb (56%) compared to the INa (7%) cases. A diagnosis of “INa” does not carry the same implication as that of “INb”. The INb category needs a more aggressive follow-up than the INa category and may justify an immediate referral for lobectomy. Despite the vague morphologic criteria for this diagnostic category, the indeterminate rate remains relatively low and falls within the NCI recommendation (<7%). Diagn. Cytopathol. 2011;. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.