Several thyroid imaging reporting and data systems (TIRADS) have been proposed to stratify the malignancy risk of thyroid nodule by ultrasound. The TIRADS by the European Thyroid Association, namely EU-TIRADS, was the last one to be published.
We conducted a meta-analysis to assess the prevalence of malignancy in each EU-TIRADS class and the performance of EU-TIRADS class 5 vs 2, 3 and 4 in detecting malignant lesions.
Four databases were searched until December 2019. Original articles reporting the performance of EU-TIRADS and adopting histology as reference standard were included. The number of malignant nodules in each class and the number of nodules classified as true/false positive/negative were extracted. A random-effects model was used for pooling data.
Seven studies were included, evaluating 5672 thyroid nodules. The prevalence of malignancy in each EU-TIRADS class was 0.5% (95% CI: 0.0–1.3), 5.9% (95% CI: 2.6–9.2), 21.4% (95% CI: 11.1–31.7), and 76.1% (95% CI: 63.7–88.5). Sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV, LR+, LR− and DOR of EU-TIRADS class 5 were 83.5% (95% CI: 74.5–89.8), 84.3% (95% CI: 66.2–93.7), 76.1% (95% CI: 63.7–88.5), 85.4% (95% CI: 79.1–91.8), 4.9 (95% CI: 2.9–8.2), 0.2 (95% CI: 0.1–0.3), and 24.5 (95% CI: 11.7–51.0), respectively. A further improved performance was found after excluding two studies because of limited sample size and low prevalence of malignancy in class 5.
A limited number of studies generally conducted using a retrospective design was found. Acknowledging this limitation, the performance of EU-TIRADS in stratifying the risk of thyroid nodules was high. Also, EU-TIRADS class 5 showed moderate evidence of detecting malignant lesions.