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Original Article
February 1, 2004

The Advantage of Total Thyroidectomy to Avoid Reoperation for Incidental Thyroid Cancer in Multinodular Goiter

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Drs Giles, Terzio[[gbreve]]lu, and Tezelman) and Endocrinology (Dr Boztepe), Istanbul Medical Faculty, Istanbul, Turkey.

Arch Surg. 2004;139(2):179-182. doi:10.1001/archsurg.139.2.179

Hypothesis  To investigate the impact of total thyroidectomy on the rate of completion thyroidectomy for incidentally found thyroid cancer in euthyroid multinodular goiter.

Design  A randomized, prospective clinical trial.

Setting  A tertiary referral center.

Patients  Patients with euthyroid multinodular goiter without any preoperative suspicion of malignancy, history of familial thyroid cancer, or previous exposure to radiation were randomized (according to a random table) to total or near-total thyroidectomy leaving no remnant tissue or less than 1 g (group 1; n = 109) or bilateral subtotal thyroidectomy leaving 5 g or more of remnant tissue (group 2; n = 109). Patients with preoperative or perioperative suspicion of malignancy were excluded.

Main Outcome Measures  We compared the complication rates and the incidence of thyroid cancer requiring radioactive iodine ablation and completion thyroidectomy between groups.

Results  There were no permanent complications. The rates of temporary unilateral vocal cord dysfunction and hypoparathyroidism showed no significant difference between groups 1 and 2 (0.9% vs 0.9% and 1.8% vs 0.9%, respectively; P>.05). Papillary cancer was found in 10 group 1 patients (9.2%) and 8 group 2 patients (7.3%) (P = .80). Of the 9 patients requiring radioactive iodine ablation, reoperation was avoided in 5 group 1 patients; the remaining 4 group 2 patients underwent completion thyroidectomy (P = .007).

Conclusion  We recommend total or near-total thyroidectomy in multinodular goiter to eliminate the necessity for early completion thyroidectomy in case of a final diagnosis of thyroid cancer.