Meropi ToumbaChild Endocrine Care, Department of Pediatrics, Aretaeio Hospital, Nicosia, Cyprus Department of Molecular Genetics, Function and Therapy, The Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, Nicosia, Cyprus
Angelos KyriacouCEDM, Centre of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Limassol, Cyprus Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology & Obesity Medicine, Salford Royal NHS Foundation & University Teaching Trust, Salford, UK Medical School, European University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
Our objective is to demonstrate the importance of considering microcalcifications even without evidence of nodules as a potential sign of malignancy. Current guidelines, such as those of the British Thyroid Association, acknowledge the clinical significance of microcalcifications only when found within nodules. In this case, they are considered a suspicious feature, classifying the nodules as U5 (i.e. high risk) where fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) is warranted, following the high likelihood of cancer in these nodules. In addition, there is a dearth of evidence of ultrasound scan (USS) detection of microcalcifications in the thyroid gland outside of nodules, along with their associated clinical implications. Yet, this clinical manifestation is not so infrequent considering that we do encounter patients in the clinic showing these findings upon ultrasound examination. Three patients who presented to our clinic with thyroid-related symptoms were shown to have areas of microcalcifications without a nodule upon sonographic evaluation of their thyroid gland. These incidentally detected hyperechoic foci were later confirmed to correspond to areas of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) on histopathological examination of resected tissue following thyroidectomy. Four more cases were identified with sonographic evidence of microcalcifications without nodules and given their clinical and other sonographic characteristics were managed with active surveillance instead.
Echogenic foci known as microcalcifications may be visible without apparent association to nodular structures.
Microcalcifications without nodules may not be an infrequent finding.
Microcalcifications are frequently indicative of malignancy within the thyroid gland even without a clearly delineated nodule.
Empirically, the usual guidelines for the management of thyroid nodules can be applied to the management of microcalcifications not confined to a nodule, but such a finding per se should be classified as a ‘high-risk’ sign.