American thyroid association sonographic risk and afirma gene expression classifier alone and in combination for the diagnosis of thyroid nodules with Bethesda Category III Cytology

Academic Article


  • Background: The Afirma gene expression classifier (GEC) has been used to aid in the diagnosis and management of thyroid nodules having Bethesda category III fine-needle aspiration cytologic diagnosis (B3 nodules). The American Thyroid Association sonographic risk stratification system for thyroid nodules (ATA-US) may stratify B3 nodules and aid in the decision to order a molecular test. The aim of this study was to assess the association between ATA-US and GEC as well as to determine their individual and combined diagnostic performances when applied to B3 nodules. Methods: A retrospective single-center study included B3 nodules that had undergone evaluation by GEC. Each ultrasound was reviewed by three radiologists, and nodules were classified using the 2015 ATA sonographic risk categories. Nodules were determined to be benign or malignant based on surgical pathology or minimum 11 months of follow-up. Positive predictive values (PPV) and negative predictive values (NPV) were calculated for GEC, ATA-US, and GEC across all ATA-US categories. Results: One hundred twenty-six B3 nodules with GEC results were included and deemed benign or malignant based on final pathology or follow-up. Prevalence of malignancy was 32%. The rate of malignancy was similar in the ATA-US high suspicion (HS) and intermediate suspicion (IS) categories at 42% and 38%, respectively; and lower in nodules with low suspicion sonography (LS) and very low suspicion sonography (VLS) at 23% and 11%, respectively. The PPV and NPV of ATA-US was calculated by designating HS or IS sonography as a "positive"test and the lower risk categories as "negative."ATA-US had a PPV of 40% and NPV of 79%. The GEC PPV was 40% and NPV was 83%. The PPV of GEC was 50% in nodules with HS or IS ATA-US and lower at 28% and 20%, respectively, in LS and VLS nodules. The NPV of GEC was 80% in HS, 77% in IS, 84% in LS, and 100% in VLS sonography categories. Conclusions: In B3 nodules, ATA-US and GEC have similar diagnostic performance. The PPV of GEC varies across ATA-US categories, while the NPV remains similar. These data support the need for future prospective studies.
  • Published In

  • Thyroid  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Arosemena M; Thekkumkattil A; Valderrama ML; Kuker R; Castillo RP; Sidani C; Gonzalez ML; Casula S; Kargi AY
  • Start Page

  • 1613
  • End Page

  • 1619
  • Volume

  • 30
  • Issue

  • 11