Purpose: The incidence of papillary thyroid microcarcinoma is increasing. We evaluated the recurrence-free survival following total thyroidectomy and lobectomy to identify the optimal surgical choice. Methods: A meta-analysis was performed using the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health PubMed database to identify eligible studies. Summary 5- and 10-year RFS estimates after TT versus LT were calculated using random effects models. Results: The literature search yielded 1117 studies (1990–2019). Nine studies met the inclusion criteria comprising 10,186 total thyroidectomy and 11,408 lobectomy patients. The 5-year recurrence-free survival was 98% [95% confidence interval (CI) 97–99%] after total thyroidectomy and 97% (95% CI 96–99%) after lobectomy, based on eight studies (9421 total thyroidectomy and 11,283 lobectomy patients); the 10-year recurrence-free survival was 95% (95% CI 92–98%) after total thyroidectomy and 92% (95% CI 86–96%) after lobectomy, based on eight studies (total thyroidectomy = 10,100, lobectomy = 11,389 patients). Conclusion: The present meta-analysis demonstrates excellent, long-term recurrence-free survival following both total thyroidectomy and lobectomy surgery in patients with papillary thyroid microcarcinoma. The analysis also suggests that patients undergoing total thyroidectomy trended toward a slightly better long-term 10-year recurrence-free survival in comparison to patients undergoing lobectomy, a finding of potential, clinical significance in the management decision-making process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-734
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Endocrinological Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Lobectomy
  • Meta-analysis
  • Oncological outcomes
  • Survival
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroidectomy


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