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The Bethesda System for Reporting Thyroid Cytopathology: A Single-Center Experience over 5 Years

  • Endocrine Tumors
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The Bethesda System for Reporting Thyroid Cytopathology (BSRTC) was developed to refine fine-needle aspiration (FNA) cytology definitions and improve clinical management. This study evaluates the impact of the BSRTC 5 years after its adoption at a single institution.


A total of 1,625 patients undergoing thyroidectomy in the pre-BSRTC (Group 1: July 2007–January 2009) and post-BSRTC (Group 2: February 2009–September 2013) periods were reviewed. Cytologic diagnoses in Group 1 included non-diagnostic, benign, follicular neoplasm, suspicious for malignancy and malignant. Atypia/follicular lesion of undetermined significance (AUS/FLUS) was included in Group 2. The proportions of each FNA category and malignancy rate per cytologic diagnosis were compared.


Fifty-four percent (187/347) of Group 1 patients had a preoperative FNA versus 61 % (777/1278) in Group 2 (p = 0.02). Group 1 FNA results included 3 % non-diagnostic, 48 % benign, 17 % follicular, 13 % suspicious for cancer, and 19 % cancer. Group 2 results included 3 % non-diagnostic, 36 % benign, 9 % follicular, 8 % suspicious for malignancy, 18 % malignant and 26 % AUS/FLUS. In Group 2, the proportions of benign, follicular and suspicious for malignancy FNAs decreased significantly (p < 0.05). In Group 2, there were more indeterminate FNA diagnoses overall (30 vs. 43 %; p < 0.001). The rate of cancer in suspicious for cancer FNA lesions increased from 44 to 65 % (p = 0.07). The AUS/FLUS malignancy rate was 15 %.


Since the adoption of the BSRTC at our institution, the proportion of indeterminate FNAs has increased; however, the diagnostic accuracy of the suspicious for cancer category improved. We recommend periodic review of the utilization and malignancy rates per cytologic category at each institution to help tailor clinical management.

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Correspondence to Colleen M. Kiernan MD.

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Kiernan, C.M., Broome, J.T. & Solórzano, C.C. The Bethesda System for Reporting Thyroid Cytopathology: A Single-Center Experience over 5 Years. Ann Surg Oncol 21, 3522–3527 (2014).

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