The follicular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (FVPTC) has multiple histological subtypes. Clinical outcomes of FVPTC are variable depending on the subtypes. This study evaluated the association of pre-operative ultrasonographic (US) findings and clinico-pathological features of FVPTC.Patients
This retrospective study enrolled patients with FVPTC (n = 70), size-matched classical variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (CPTC, n = 328), follicular carcinoma (n = 85) and follicular adenoma (FA, n = 120). We defined the histological subtypes of FVPTC as infiltrative (I-FVPTC; n = 19) or encapsulated (E-FVPTC; n = 51) according to the presence of a fibrous capsule. Pre-operative US was reviewed using a US scoring system and classified into low US score (n = 42) and high US score (n = 28).Results
The median US score for FVPTC was lower than CPTC (2 vs 7, P < 0·001), but higher than FA (2 vs 0, P < 0·001). The median US score for I-FVPTC was significantly higher than E-FVPTC (4 vs 2, P = 0·009). I-FVPTC was more likely to be diagnosed as a malignancy or suspicious for malignancy on cytology than E-FVPTC (P = 0·002). The cumulative risks of cervical lymph node (LN) or distant metastasis according to tumour size were significantly higher in I-FVPTC than E-FVPTC (all P < 0·001). The cumulative risks for cervical LN metastasis or capsular invasion according to tumour size were significantly higher in FVPTC with high US score than FVPTC with low US score (P = 0·005, P < 0·001, respectively).Conclusions
Pre-operative US findings of thyroid nodules were associated with not only histological subtypes, but also the clinical behaviour in FVPTC.