2013 European Thyroid Association Guidelines for Cervical Ultrasound Scan and Ultrasound-Guided Techniques in the Postoperative Management of Patients with Thyroid Cancer
Cervical ultrasound scanning (US) is considered a key examination, by all major thyroid and endocrine specialist societies for the postoperative follow-up of thyroid cancer patients to assess the risk of recurrence. Neck US imaging is readily available, non-invasive, relatively easy to perform, cost-effective, and can guide diagnostic and therapeutic procedures with low complication rates. Its main shortcoming is its operator-dependency. Because of the pivotal role of US in the care of thyroid cancer patients, the European Thyroid Association convened a panel of international experts to review technical aspects, indications, results, and limitations of cervical US in the initial staging and follow-up of thyroid cancer patients. The main aim is to establish guidelines for both a cervical US scanning protocol and US-guided diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in patients with thyroid cancer. This report presents (1) standardization of the US scanning procedure, techniques of US-guided fine-needle aspiration, and reporting of findings; (2) definition of criteria for classification of malignancy risk based on cervical US imaging characteristics of neck masses and lymph nodes; (3) indications for US-guided fine-needle aspiration and for biological in situ assessments; (4) proposal of an algorithm for the follow-up of thyroid cancer patients based on risk stratification following histopathological and cervical US findings, and (5) discussion of the potential use of US-guided localization and ablation techniques for locoregional thyroid metastases.