The impact of implementation of the bethesda system for reporting thyroid cytopathology on the quality of reporting, "risk" of malignancy, surgical rate, and rate of frozen sections requested for thyroid lesions

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: The Bethesda System for Reporting Thyroid Cytopathology (TBSRTC) has been anticipated to improve communication between pathologists and clinicians and thereby patient outcomes. In the current study, the impact of TBSRTC on various quality and outcome measures was assessed. METHODS: The current study included all patients who underwent fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of the thyroid between April 2006 and April 2009. Before implementation, the authors used generic diagnostic categories; after implementation, TBSRTC was used. Quality of reporting, diagnostic categories, rate of surgery, rates of frozen section, the "risk" of malignancy after a cytologic diagnosis, and errors before and after implementation of TBSRTC were compared using the chi-square and Fisher exact tests. Multilevel likelihood ratios and the receiver operating characteristic were used to compare the accuracy of FNA before and after implementation. RESULTS: A total of 1671 FNAs (957 obtained before and 714 obtained after implementation of TBSRTC) were obtained from 1339 patients. Of these, 301 patients (191 before and 110 after implementation) underwent subsequent surgical resection. Before implementation, the reports were more ambiguous (3.7% vs 0.5%; P < .05) and implicit (5.1% vs 2.7%; P < .05) than after implementation. The overall rate of surgery decreased after implementation of TBSRTC (24.5% vs 19.6%; P < .05). The overall risk of malignancy did not appear to be affected by implementation of TBSRTC, but it decreased significantly after a benign FNA diagnosis compared with a diagnosis of an atypical lesion or follicular neoplasm. The rate of frozen section remained unchanged. The diagnostic accuracy was not found to be significantly different before compared with after implementation of TBSRTC. CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of TBSRTC appears to improve the quality of reporting by lowering the number of ambiguous and implicit diagnoses and decreases the overall surgery rates, particularly for benign lesions, but it does not appear to have any effect on the accuracy of FNA of the thyroid, false-positive rates, or the frequency of intraoperative consultations. © 2011 American Cancer Society.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Crowe A; Linder A; Hameed O; Salih C; Roberson J; Gidley J; Eltoum IA
  • Start Page

  • 315
  • End Page

  • 321
  • Volume

  • 119
  • Issue

  • 5