Thyroid US screening is not recommended in patients without thyroid disease’s signs or symptoms and without thyroid carcinoma family history.

Type of practice

Imaging

Topic Area

Endocrinology

Thyroid ultrasound is a powerful investigation for the diagnosis of thyroid disorders, but its use must be guided by the proper clinical context. Small thyroid nodules are highly prevalent in the general population, and, in most cases, their clinical significance is limited. Over the last few decades, there has been a significant increase in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Most of these new cases, however, regard small well-differentiated tumors, whose detection has failed to produce a concomitant decrease in mortality, raising the issue of over-diagnosis. The indiscriminate use of thyroid ultrasound may lead to detection of tumors which, while not affecting individual prognosis, can cause anxiety and harm to the patient, promote unnecessary diagnostic and surgical interventions, and add to the costs for the taxpayer.

Sources

1. Gharib H and the AACE /AME/ETA Task Force on Thyroid Nodules. AACE, AME, and ETA medical guidelines for clinical practice for the diagnosis and management of thyroid nodules. J Endocrinol Invest executive summary 2010, 33: 287.
2. Huang TW, et al. Systematic review of clinical practice guidelines in the diagnosis and management of thyroid nodules and cancer. BMC Medicine 2013, 11: 191.
3. Cooper DS, Doherty GM, Haugen BR et Al. Revised American Thyroid Association Management Guidelines for Patients with Thyroid Nodules and Differentiated Thyroid Cancer. Thyroid 2009, 19: 1-48.
4. Brito JP, Morris JC, Montori VM. Thyroid cancer: zealous imaging has increased detection and treatment of low risk tumours BMJ 2013; 347: f4706.
5. Davies L, Welch HG. Current thyroid cancer trends in the United States. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014 Apr;140(4):317-22.

Attention. Please note that these items are provided only for information and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a clinician. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their clinician.