Frozen section analysis and sentinel lymph node biopsy in well differentiated thyroid cancer

Yelda Jozaghi, Keith Richardson, Sumeet Anand, Alex Mlynarek, Michael P. Hier, Véronique Isabelle Forest, Eyal Sela, Michael Tamilia, Derin Caglar, Richard J. Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study is to prospectively review the role of sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy in the management of well differentiated thyroid carcinoma (WDTC), and to determine the efficacy of intraoperative frozen section analysis at detecting SLN metastasis and central compartment involvement. Methods: The SLN biopsy protocol using 1% methylene blue was performed in 300 patients undergoing thyroidectomy for WDTC. A limited pretracheal central compartment neck dissection (CCND) was performed on all patients. Lymph nodes staining blue were considered as SLN's. Both frozen and permanent section analyses were performed. Results: SLN's with metastasis were found in 14.3% (43/300) of cases. Of this, 11% (33/300) were positive on intraoperative frozen section analysis. Frozen section results failed in predicting central compartment involvement in 15 cases (5%) whereas central neck compartment involvement was missed in 5 cases (1.7%) when based on permanent section results. On frozen section analysis, the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value (95% CI) of our SLN biopsy technique aiming to remove all disease from the central compartment was 68.8% (53.6-80.9), 100% (98.1-100), 100% (87.0-100) and 94.4% (90.7-96.7) respectively with P < 0.0001. On permanent section analysis, the values were 89.6% (76.6-96.1), 100% (98.1-100), 100% (89.8-100), and 98.1% (95.3-99.3) with P < 0.0001. Conclusion: This data series demonstrates that patients with WDTC have positive SLN's in 14.3% of cases. Moreover, when the SLN's are negative for metastasis on frozen section, the central compartment was disease-free in 94.4% of cases. Finally, this study shows that 23.3% of positive SLN's were false negatives on intraoperative frozen section. According to this data, SLN involvement is an accurate predictor of central compartment metastasis, however surgeons should use caution when relying on intraoperative frozen section to determine whether to perform a CCND.

Original languageEnglish
Article number48
JournalJournal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Frozen section analysis and sentinel lymph node biopsy in well differentiated thyroid cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this