The solitary thyroid nodule: Diagnosis and management of malignant disease

William Lawson, Hugh F. Biller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


While few solitary thyroid nodules are carcinomatous, it is essential to identify and preferentially select those that are for surgery. Clinical, biochemical, serologic, radiographic, scintigraphic, sonographic, biopsy, and even therapeutic evaluation may be necessary to choose those patients with the greatest probability of malignancy. The benefits and limitations of each diagnostic modality are discussed, and the importance of fine-needle aspiration is stressed. After the operative confirmation of malignancy, the prognosis in any given case depends on 1) the histologic type of the neoplasm, 2) its size and extent, 3) the presence of angioinvasiveness, 4) the tendency toward multicentricity of the lesion, 5) the age and sex of the patient, and 6) whether distant metastases are present. These factors influence the extent of surgery required for well-differentiated carcinomas. Meticulous dissection and preservation of the recurrent laryngeal nerves and the parathyroid glands along with their blood supply are important if total thyroidectomy for papillary carcinoma is to be employed with an acceptable operative morbidity to optimize survival. The value of the adjunctive use of thyroid hormone and radioactive iodine is also discussed. Finally, the clinical behaviors and treatments of undifferentiated carcinomas, sarcomas, lymphomas, and neoplasms metastatic to the thyroid gland are reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-73
Number of pages31
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 1983


  • Carcinomas
  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy
  • Thyroid


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