European Radiology

, Volume 22, Issue 7, pp 1564–1572 | Cite as

Diagnostic accuracy of fine-needle aspiration versus core-needle biopsy for the diagnosis of thyroid malignancy in a clinical cohort

  • Jin Yong Sung
  • Dong Gyu NaEmail author
  • Kyu Sun Kim
  • Hyunju Yoo
  • Hunkyung Lee
  • Ji-hoon Kim
  • Jung Hwan Baek
Head and Neck



To retrospectively compare the accuracy of fine-needle aspiration (FNA) and core-needle biopsy (CNB) for the diagnosis of thyroid malignancy


We evaluated the results of FNA and CNB in 555 consecutive thyroid nodules with final diagnoses (malignancy 318, benign 237). All patients underwent FNA and CNB simultaneously for each nodule. We assessed the sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of FNA, CNB and FNA/CNB for the diagnosis of thyroid malignancy.


The sensitivity of FNA, CNB and FNA/CNB for thyroid malignancy was 68.6%, 86.8% and 90.6%, specificity 100%, 99.2% and 99.2%, and accuracy 82.0%, 92.1% and 94.2%, respectively. The sensitivity and accuracy of CNB or FNA/CNB for thyroid malignancy were significantly higher than those of FNA (P < 0.001). Compared with CNB alone, FNA/CNB was more accurate for thyroid malignancy only in small nodules less than 1 cm (P < 0.001).


Our clinical cohort data demonstrated that CNB was more accurate for the diagnosis of thyroid malignancy than FNA, and FNA/CNB was more accurate than CNB alone in small thyroid nodules. CNB will play a complementary role in optimal surgical decision-making and the management of thyroid nodules.

Key Points

CNB was more accurate for the diagnosis of malignancy than FNA.

Combined FNA/CNB was more accurate than CNB alone in small thyroid nodules.

CNB should play at least a complementary role in managing thyroid nodules.


Thyroid Ultrasound Aspiration cytology Biopsy Thyroid cancer 


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Copyright information

© European Society of Radiology 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jin Yong Sung
    • 1
  • Dong Gyu Na
    • 2
    Email author
  • Kyu Sun Kim
    • 1
  • Hyunju Yoo
    • 3
  • Hunkyung Lee
    • 4
  • Ji-hoon Kim
    • 5
  • Jung Hwan Baek
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Radiology, Thyroid CenterDaerim St. Mary’s HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyHuman Medical Imaging and Intervention CenterSeocho-guSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of Pathology, Thyroid CenterDaerim St. Mary’s HospitalSeoulSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of PathologyEwha Clinical LaboratorySeoulSouth Korea
  5. 5.Department of RadiologySeoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of MedicineSeoulSouth Korea
  6. 6.Department of Radiology and Research Institute of Radiology, Asan Medical CenterUniversity of Ulsan College of MedicineUlsanSouth Korea

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