Trends in thyroid fine-needle aspiration cytology practices: Results from a college of American pathologists 2016 practice survey

Daniel D. Mais, Barbara A. Crothers*, Diane Davis Davey, Kristen E. Natale, Ritu Nayar, Rhona J. Souers, Barbara J. Blond, Sarah Hackman, Joseph A. Tworek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Context.-The College of American Pathologists periodically surveys laboratories to determine changes in cytopathology practices. We report the results of a 2016 survey concerning thyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA). Objective.-To provide a cross-sectional survey of thyroid cytology practices in 2016. Design.-In 2016, a survey was sent to 2013 laboratories participating in the College of American Pathologists Non-Gynecologic Cytology Education Program (NGC-A) requesting data from 2015-2016 on several topics relating to thyroid FNA. Results.-A total of 878 laboratories (43.6% of 2013) replied to the survey. Radiologists performed the most thyroid FNA procedures in most laboratories (70%; 529 of 756), followed by endocrinologists (18.7%; 141 of 756), and most of these were performed under ultrasound guidance (92.1%; 699 of 759). A total of 32.6% of respondents (251 of 769) provided feedback on unsatisfactory rates for nonpathology providers who performed FNA. Intraprocedural adequacy assessment was primarily performed by attending pathologists (77.4%; 490 of 633) or cytotechnologists (28.4%; 180 of 633). Most laboratories used the Bethesda System for Reporting Thyroid Cytopathology (89.8%; 701 of 781) and performed molecular testing based on clinician request (68.1%; 184 of 270) rather than FNA diagnosis. Correlation of thyroid excisions with prior cytology results most often occurred retrospectively (38.4%; 283 of 737) and was used for pathologist interpretive quality assurance purposes. Conclusions.-These survey results offer a snapshot of national thyroid FNA cytology practices in 2016 and indicate that standardized cytology terminology is commonly used; pathologists perform most immediate adequacy assessments for thyroid FNA; laboratories use correlation statistics to evaluate pathologists' performance; and molecular tests are increasingly requested for indeterminate interpretations, but reflex molecular testing is rare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1364-1372
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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