Diagnostic value of qualitative and quantitative variables in thyroid lesions.

Two hundred and thirty-three thyroid lesions were studied by fine needle aspiration (FNA) cytology using standard cytologic criteria available in the literature. These included 114 cases of nodular colloid goitre (NCG), 47 cases of Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT), 12 follicular adenomas (FAd), five cases of subacute thyroiditis and three cases of thyrotoxicosis among the benign lesions. The malignant lesions seen were 30 cases of papillary carcinoma (PCa), 16 follicular carcinomas (FCa), three cases with double lesions, e.g. papillary carcinoma with coexisting NCG, and three of papillary carcinoma with HT. Emphasis was given to eight qualitative and quantitative (morphometric) variables in these various thyroid lesions. Cell measurements were done using a Visopan Lux projection microscope. The three qualitative variables included type of nuclear membrane (regular/irregular), type of nuclear chromatin and the presence or absence of conspicuous nucleoli. The quantitative variables studied were nuclear diameter, nuclear area, cytoplasmic diameter, cytoplasmic area & N/C ratio. Statistical analysis was performed in order to know whether the standard cytologic criteria used at FNA cytology in the literature (increased cellularity, microfollicles, increased N/C ratio, absence of significant haemosiderin-laden macrophages and scanty colloid) could differentiate a follicular adenoma from a follicular carcinoma. A statistical analysis was also performed to establish the utility of the qualitative and quantitative variables. The results showed that none of the standard cytologic criteria applied could differentiate follicular adenoma from a follicular carcinoma. With regard to qualitative variables, irregularity of nuclear membrane and presence of conspicuous nucleoli were most significant in papillary carcinoma, followed by follicular carcinoma, then by follicular adenoma; these features being hardly evident in nodular colloid goitre and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. A coarse nuclear chromatin was most significant in follicular carcinomas followed by follicular adenomas. It was less obvious in the benign conditions, but more prominent in Hashimoto's thyroiditis compared with a goitre. It was also not obvious in a papillary carcinoma. Of the quantitative variables, all measurements were greatest in PCa > FCa > FAd > NCG = HT. When differentiating follicular adenoma from follicular carcinoma the qualitative variables of significance were the presence or absence of nucleoli, the chromatin pattern and regularity/irregularity of nuclear membrane; the nuclear area was the most important feature among quantitative variables.
AuthorsP Rout, S Shariff
JournalCytopathology : official journal of the British Society for Clinical Cytology (Cytopathology) Vol. 10 Issue 3 Pg. 171-9 (Jun 1999) ISSN: 0956-5507 [Print] ENGLAND
PMID10390065 (Publication Type: Journal Article)
Chemical References
  • Chromatin
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular (pathology)
  • Adenoma (pathology)
  • Biopsy, Needle (methods)
  • Carcinoma, Papillary (pathology)
  • Chromatin (pathology)
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Goiter, Nodular (pathology)
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Envelope (pathology)
  • Observer Variation
  • Thyroid Neoplasms (pathology)
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune (pathology)
  • Thyrotoxicosis (pathology)

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