Conference Coverage

Hemithyroidectomy rates rose after guideline update


Key clinical point: Hemithyroidectomy rates had a robust uptick following release of 2015 clinical practice guidelines, suggesting surgeons may be changing their practice in response.

Major finding: The rate of hemithyroidectomy increased from 15.6% before guidelines to 18.3% afterward (P < 0.001).

Study details: Analysis of the American College of Surgeons-NSQIP database from 2014 to 2016 including nearly 34,000 procedures.

Disclosures: Study authors reported no disclosures.

Source: Ullmann TM et al. Abstract SF125 presented at American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress



BOSTON – Hemithyroidectomy rates increased following the 2015 release of clinical practice guidelines that position the procedure as equivalent to total thyroidectomy, an analysis of U.S. hospital data shows.

Timothy M. Ullmann, MD, Endocrine Oncology Research Fellow in the Department of Surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital—Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, N.Y. Andrew Bowser/MDedge News

Dr. Timothy M. Ullmann

Patients undergoing hemithyroidectomy had fewer complications and shorter length of stay versus patients who received a bilateral procedure, with no corresponding increase in completion thyroidectomy, according to results of the retrospective analysis reported here at the annual clinical congress of the American College of Surgeons.

“We think this suggests that surgeons might be changing their practice at these hospitals, at least in part in response to the guidelines,” investigator Timothy M. Ullmann, MD, endocrine oncology research fellow in the department of surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital–Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York.

Dr. Ullmann and colleagues queried the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database for the 2014-2016 period to illustrate operative trends before and after release of the 2015 guidelines from the American Thyroid Association guidelines. They looked at a total of 26,562 procedures done before the guidelines were release, and 7,422 done after.

The rate of hemithyroidectomy increased from 15.6% before guidelines to 18.3% afterward (P less than .001), according to Dr. Ullmann. By contrast, the rates of completion thyroidectomy were 7.8% for the pre-guidelines period and 7.4% post-guidelines (P = .19).

Andrew Bowser/MDedge News

Dr. Toni Beninato

The increase was gradual throughout the 2014-2016 period, though it was especially steep after the guideline introduction, according to co-investigator Toni Beninato, MD, of Weill Cornell Medicine.

“While we can’t say that the guidelines directly caused an increase, it’s a pretty good association,” Dr. Beninato said in a press conference. “I think going forward, we would expect this to continue to increase, because the vast majority of patients with thyroid cancer probably fit criteria to have a hemithyroidectomy rather than a total thyroidectomy.”

Patients treated by otolaryngologists were more likely to undergo hemithyroidectomies versus those treated by general surgeons, multivariate analysis of this data set suggested (odds ratio, 1.13, P less than .001). On the other hand, Hispanic patients and those with a higher operative risk classification were less likely to undergo a unilateral procedure.

Complications were less likely in the hemithyroidectomy patients, according to investigators. There were significantly fewer superficial surgical site infections, at 0.2% versus 0.4% for total thyroidectomy, and operative time was 91.6 minutes versus 141.1 minutes.

Hemithyroidectomy patients were less likely to be reintubated after surgery, had a shorter length of stay, and were more likely to be managed on an outpatient basis, they added at the press conference.

Prior ATA guidelines, in place since 2009, called for near-total or total thyroidectomy for cancers that were at least 1 cm in size in patients with no contraindications to the procedure. The 2015 update says the initial surgical procedure could also be a unilateral procedure, or lobectomy, in cancers greater than 1 cm, or smaller than 4 cm with no extrathyroidal extension.

Dr. Ullmann and Dr. Beninato had no relevant financial relationships with commercial interests pertaining to the content of their presentation.

SOURCE: Ullmann TM et al. Abstract SF121 presented at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress.

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