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Thyroid Tumors: When to Consider Combined Ultrasound and CT Scans

December 11, 2009
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging
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Radiologists performing preop evaluations of papillary thyroid tumors may want to consider using both ultrasound and CT scans. In a Korean study of nearly 300 people with papillary thyroid cancer, researchers compared the diagnostic accuracy of CT and ultrasound alone with the combination of both CT and ultrasound. The study was recently published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

For each patient the team evaluated tumor size, extrathyroidal extension, and whether the cancer had spread to other parts of the body. Results showed that ultrasound was actually more accurate than CT scans in predicting extrathyroidal extension and the presence of malignant growths. CT scans were more sensitive than ultrasound alone in predicting central node metastasis. Ultrasound alone and ultrasound combined with CT was better than CT alone at predicting lateral node metastasis.

The study reinforces that ultrasound is accurate in preop evaluation for extrathyroid tumor extension and lateral lymph node metastasis. However, CT is more sensitive than ultrasound alone for detecting metastasis of the central lymph nodes.


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