BACKGROUND: While thyroid nodules are frequent in endocrine clinical practice, patients are often asymptomatic and euthyroid, and death is rare in cases of malignancy.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the perception of current international guidelines regarding thyroid nodule management among Italian endocrinologists, and to compare daily clinical practice with suggested recommendations.
METHODS: Italian Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AME) members were invited to participate in a Web-based survey.
RESULTS: A total of 566 physicians responded. About 50% had read the full text of the guidelines. Over half appreciated the suggested ultrasound (US) risk categories. Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) was obtained more frequently than recommended. Follow-up of a cytologically benign nodule was largely performed according to the guidelines. Molecular testing would be most commonly requested when cytology reports showed atypia of undetermined significance/follicular lesion of undetermined significance (AUS/FLUS) (TIR3A for Italian System). Iodine and/or levothyroxine were largely prescribed for cytologically benign asymptomatic nodules. Laser/radiofrequency ablation and percutaneous ethanol injection were commonly considered as alternatives to surgery (46.2 and 71.4%, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Efforts are needed to make the guidelines more user-friendly and to encourage the use of codified risk categories in thyroid US reports. FNA indications remain a matter of debate as FNA is obtained in clinical practice more often than is recommended. Current US follow-up modalities for a benign nodule are correct, but probably could be performed less frequently without any harm. Molecular testing, if accessible, would be helpful in guiding clinicians' strategies in cases of AUS/FLUS-TIR3A cytologic results. Nonsurgical procedures are favorably embraced.