Does Frozen Section Alter Surgical Management of Multinodular Thyroid Disease?

Sarah Olson, Yusra Cheema, Josephine Harter, James Starling, Herbert Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Frozen section (FS) evaluation during thyroid surgery is often used to guide intraoperative management. We sought to determine the utility of FS in patients undergoing thyroidectomy for multinodular thyroid disease. Methods: From May 1994 through November 2004, 236 patients with multinodular goiter underwent thyroidectomy at our institution. Patient data were retrospectively analyzed to see if a frozen section was performed during the procedure and whether it changed the patient's outcome. Results: Of the 236 patients, 135 (57%) had intra-operative FS. There were no differences between patients who had FS analysis and those who did not with regard to age, gender, and the incidence of malignancy. Of the patients who had FS, 4/135 (3%) were subsequently diagnosed with thyroid cancer on permanent histology. Three of these FS were misread as benign. Therefore, the sensitivity of FS for the diagnosis of thyroid cancer was only 25%. Importantly, in none of the 135 patients did FS alter the intraoperative management. Conclusion: While FS was commonly used in patients undergoing thyroidectomy at our institution, in no patient over the last decade did FS correctly alter the intraoperative management. Given the time required to perform FS and the cost associated with it, we believe that routine FS should not be performed in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-181
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • frozen section
  • multinodular goiter
  • thyroid goiter
  • thyroid surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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