Is Frozen-Section Analysis During Thyroid Operation Useful in the Era of Molecular Testing?

Academic Article


  • Background: With the increased use of molecular testing of thyroid fine-needle biopsies, the frequency and extent of thyroid resection for thyroid nodules has changed. Although the role of frozen-section analysis of the thyroid has been reduced markedly in recent years, many surgeons still routinely use it intraoperatively. We sought to determine the utility of frozen section during thyroidectomy in the era of molecular testing. Study Design: We reviewed 236 consecutive patients who had thyroidectomy with intraoperative frozen-section analysis at our institution between November 2015 and October 2017. We re-reviewed the preoperative diagnosis, frozen-section diagnosis, final pathology, and whether operative management changed from the initial plan based on frozen section. Results: Mean age of the patients was 55.6 ± 14.1 years, and 83% were female. Of the 236 patients, frozen section did not change the intraoperative management in 225 (95%). Of the 11 patients whose thyroid operation was modified, the operation was either too much or not enough in 6 patients. In only 5 (2.1%) patients, frozen-section analysis correctly changed the extent of thyroidectomy. Conclusions: Thyroid frozen-section analysis adds cost and time to thyroid operations without notable benefit. In our cohort, only 2.1% of frozen sections accurately changed intraoperative management. We recommend against its routine use.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mallick R; Stevens TM; Winokur TS; Asban A; Wang TN; Lindeman BM; Porterfield JR; Chen H
  • Start Page

  • 474
  • End Page

  • 479
  • Volume

  • 228
  • Issue

  • 4