Computed Tomography Features of Benign and Malignant Calcified Thyroid Nodules: A Single-Center Study

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Abstract

Objective

No previous studies have investigated thyroid calcification on computed tomography (CT) quantitatively by using Hounsfield unit (HU) values. This study aimed to analyze quantitative HU values of thyroid calcification on preoperative neck CT and to assess the characteristics of benign and malignant calcified thyroid nodules (CTNs).

Materials and Methods

Two hundred twenty patients who underwent neck CT before thyroid surgery from January 2015 to June 2016 were included. On soft-tissue window CT images, CTNs with calcified components of 3 mm or larger in minimum diameter were included in this study. The HU values and types of CTNs were determined and analyzed.

Results

Of 61 CTNs in 49 patients, there were 42 malignant nodules and 19 benign nodules. The mean largest diameter of the calcified component was 5.3 (2.5) mm (range, 3.1–17.1 mm). A statistically significant difference was observed in the HU values of calcified portions between benign and malignant CTNs, whereas there was no significant difference in patient age or sex or in the size, location, or type of each CTN. Of the 8 CTNs with pure calcification, 3 exhibited a honeycomb pattern on bone window CT images, and these 3 CTNs were all diagnosed as papillary thyroid carcinoma on histopathological examination.

Conclusions

Hounsfield unit values of CTNs may be helpful for differentiating malignancy from benignity.

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