Comparative evaluation of recombinant human thyrotropin-stimulated thyroglobulin levels, 131I whole-body scintigraphy, and neck ultrasonography in the follow-up of patients with papillary thyroid microcarcinoma who have not undergone radioiodine therapy

Massimo Torlontano, Umberto Crocetti, Giovanni Augello, Leonardo D'Aloiso, Nazario Bonfitto, Antonio Varraso, Franca Dicembrino, Sergio Modoni, Vincenzo Frusciante, Anna Di Giorgio, Rocco Bruno, Sebastiano Filetti, Vincenzo Trischitta

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Context: Although the prognosis of papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC) is usually excellent, the optimal follow-up strategy has never been investigated. Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate the role of neck ultrasonography (US), whole-body scintigraphy (WBS), and serum thyroglobulin levels (Tg) after recombinant human (rh) TSH in the follow-up of very low-risk PTMC patients. Design: The study was a 5-yr observational study based on a 6- to 12-month follow-up after near total thyroidectomy. Setting: The study population consisted of ambulatory patients. Patients: Eighty consecutive patients diagnosed with PTMC, who had not undergone postoperative radioiodine treatment because of unifocal tumor without lymph node metastases and who did not have anti-Tg antibodies, were included. Main Outcome Measures: WBS and Tg after both rhTSH and neck US were measured. Results: rhTSH-Tg was 1 ng/ml or less in 45 (Tg-) and more than 1 in 35 (Tg+) patients. WBS showed no pathological uptake in any patient. US identified node metastases in two Tg (+) and one Tg (-) patients. rhTSH-Tg levels positively correlated with thyroid bed iodine uptake (r = 0.40, P <0.0001). To date (32 ± 13 months after surgery), all node-negative patients have undetectable Tg levels on LT 4 treatment and negative US. Conclusions: For the initial follow-up of PTMC patients without risk factors and anti-Tg antibodies and who did not undergo radioiodine treatment: 1) WBS is useless; 2) US is highly sensitive in detecting node metastases; and 3) detectable rhTSH-Tg levels mainly depend on small normal tissue remnants. In this subgroup of PTMC patients, neck US might be regarded as a primary tool for the initial follow-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-63
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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