Radio-guided selective compartment neck dissection improves staging in papillary thyroid carcinoma: A prospective study on 345 patients with a 3-year follow-up

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Prospective uncontrolled study to investigate in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) patients: (1) Distribution of lymph node metastases within the neck compartments, (2) factors predicting lymph nodes metastases, and (3) disease recurrence after thyroidectomy associated with radio-guided selective compartment neck dissection (RSCND).


We studied 345 consecutive PTC patients operated on between February 2004 and October 2011 at the S. Anna University Hospital, Ferrara (Italy). Patients with cervical lymph node metastases on preoperative ultrasonography and fine needle aspiration cytology were excluded. All patients underwent total thyroidectomy associated with SLN identification followed by RSCND in the SLN compartment, without SLN frozen section.


In patients with lymph node metastases, metastatic nodes were not in the central neck compartment in 22.6% of the cases. The presence of infiltrating or multifocal PTC was a predicting factor for lymph nodes metastases. The median follow-up was 35.5 months. RSCND was associated with a false-negative rate of 1.1%, a persistent disease rate of 0.6%, and a recurrent disease rate of 0.9%. The permanent dysphonia rate was 1.3%.


RSCND associated with total thyroidectomy may improve: (1) the locoregional lymph node staging, and (2) the identification of the site of lymphatic drainage within the neck compartments. Thus, considering the high false-negative rate of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), a radio-guided technique in PTC patients may guide the lymphadenectomy (ie, RSCND) to increase the metastatic yield and improve staging of the disease rather than avoid prophylactic lymphadenectomy (ie, SLNB).

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