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Lobectomy for a Large Benign Thyroid Nodule? Second Opinion Saved the Day

Posted Nov 09 2010 12:00am
50 Y/O female for second opinion on a referral for a lobectomy for a very large thyroid nodule. The FNA of the nodule was benign, but because of the size her endocrinologists referred her for surgery. The ultrasound described two small insignificant nodules 7 mm each in the opposite lobe. My evaluation revealed a major historical finding not known by the first opinion physician. Her sister had thyroid cancer. My ultrasound again saw the nodules but they has 4 + Doppler blood flow in the nodules, irregular borders. My FNA of the large nodule was also benign, but because of the ultrasound findings and the family hx of thyroid cancer I biopsied the two suspicious small nodules not evaluated by the first opinion physician. Both were positive for papillary thyroid cancer. What should you learn as a thyroid patient with a nodule?
1. Get an outside second opinion from a clinical thyroidologist before going under the knife.
2. The second opinion found out during the history that she was at risk due to the fact her sister had thyroid cancer.
3. Careful evaluation of the thyroid by ultrasound revealed not 2 insignificant small nodules, but suspicious nodules for FNA.
4. The second opinion consultant had now changed the whole case from a simple lobectomy to remove a large benign nodule, to a total thyroidectomy for cancer. The lobectomy would have left her with thyroid cancer in the other side that the surgeon would not have felt as they were too small to palpate.
4. The two tests needed before surgery for thyroid cancer would not have been done. They are thyroglobulin cancer marker and an ultrasound 6 level lymph node mapping. This procedure can result in a change in the extent of surgery 30% of the time to include one or more lateral neck lymph node compartments.

It is no emergency to go to surgery for a thyroid nodule. Stop, Think, and get proactive.
Second opinion from an expert thyroidologist can save you from the wrong surgery, as in this example.
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