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Open access

Luca Brunese, Antonio Romeo, Sergio Iorio, Giuseppina Napolitano, Stefano Fucili, Pio Zeppa, Gianfranco Vallone, Gaetano Lombardi, Antonio Bellastella, Bernadette Biondi, and Antonio Sodano


Microcalcifications (aggregated with psammoma bodies), detected by ultrasound (US), are the most specific feature of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). Using B-flow imaging (BFI), we identified a new sign (the twinkling sign; BFI-TS) in ‘suspect’ PTC nodules, which appeared to be generated by microcalcifications.


To evaluate whether the BFI-TS was predictive of malignancy, we correlated the BFI-TS with the results of fine needle aspiration cytology and histology.


Cross-sectional cohort study from September 2006 to April 2008.


Department of Radiology and Endocrinology, University of Naples Federico II, and Department of Endocrinology, Second University of Naples.


A total of 306 consecutive patients with 539 thyroid nodules >8 mm in diameter.

Main outcome measure

US and BFI examinations were performed with the Logiq 9 system (General Electric Company, Milan, Italy); all patients underwent cytological examination.


Cytology revealed 455 (84.4%) benign nodules and 84 (15.6%) malignant nodules; the latter were confirmed by postsurgical histological examination (76 cases of PTC, 7 follicular carcinoma, and 1 Hürthle cell carcinoma). All suspect nodules, namely, nodules with potential predictors of thyroid malignancy (e.g., microcalcifications and intra-nodal vascularity), were analyzed by cytology or histology (or both). Of 84, 68 (80.9%) of malignant nodules had ≥4 or more BFI-TSs in at least one scan versus only 12 of 455 (2.6%) of benign lesions.


Our results indicate that the BFI-TS could be a reliable diagnostic technique in the management of suspect thyroid nodules.

Restricted access

Mario Rotondi, Martina Molteni, Carlo Cappelli, Laura Croce, Alessandro Caputo, Gloria Groppelli, Federico Liboà, Valeria Guazzoni, Laura Villani, Pio Zeppa, and Luca Chiovato


Indeterminate cytological result at Fine-needle-aspiration-cytology (FNAC) remains a clinical challenge for endocrinologists. Aim of the present study was to evaluate whether a coexistent Chronic-Autoimmune-Thyroiditis (CAT) might affect the diagnostic accuracy of fine-needle aspiration cytology for thyroid nodules.

Design and Methods

A retrospective cohort study was designed including all nodules receiving an indeterminate cytology result (TIR3A or TIR3B) undergoing thyroid surgery and subsequent histological confirmation. Patients were stratified in two groups according to the presence or absence of CAT.

The hypothesis to be tested was whether follicular cell alterations induced by CAT might increase the rate of indeterminate cytological results in histologically benign thyroid nodules. Additional control groups were represented by nodules with determinate cytology, either benign (TIR 2) or malignant (TIR5).


One-hundred-eighty-nine indeterminate thyroid nodules were included (67 TIR3A and 122 TIR3B). At post-surgical histology 46 nodules (24.3%) were malignant. No significant differences were observed in the rate of histologically proven malignancy between patients without CAT and patients with CAT in the TIR3B (29.4% vs 32.4%; p=0.843) nor TIR3A (13.0% vs 11.4%; p=1.000) nodules. The rate of coexistent CAT was similar between TIR3B and TIR5 nodules harboring PTC at histology (30.4% vs 39.4%, p=0.491) and between indeterminate nodules and a control group of TIR2 nodules (39.2% vs 37.0%; p=0.720).

Conclusions: The similar rates of histologically proven malignancy found in cytologically indeterminate nodules in the presence or absence of concomitant CAT, would not support that CAT itself affects the diagnostic accuracy of fine-needle aspiration cytology.