The potential role of carbon nanoparticles-assisted biopsy for sentinel lymph nodes of incidental thyroid carcinoma

Chaojie Zhang, Xinying Li, Zhigong Zhang, Shanshan Lei, Peizhi Fan, Qiang Xiao


Background: Some thyroid cancers are found after thyroidectomy for benign lesions, implying additional surgery and treatments. This work aimed to investigate the role of intraoperative sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) for diagnosis of incidental thyroid carcinoma.
Methods: This was a retrospective study of 541 consecutive patients who underwent thyroid surgery between 02/2012 and 02/2014 at the Hunan Provincial People’s Hospital. All patients were diagnosed with thyroid benign lesions preoperatively and intraoperatively. Among them, 375 underwent successful intraoperative SLNB using carbon nanoparticles (CNs).
Results: The preoperative diagnoses were nodular goiter (n=472), Hashimoto’s disease with nodules (n=24), hyperthyroidism with nodules (n=16), and thyroid cysts with obstructive symptoms (n=29). In the SLNB group, SLN metastasis of thyroid microcarcinoma was confirmed in 21/392 cases (5.4%). These 21 patients received radical surgical treatment for thyroid carcinoma during the initial operation. In the no-SLNB group (n=149), seven patients (4.7%) were finally diagnosed with thyroid microcarcinoma. Six patients had to undergo a second surgery.
Conclusions: Intraoperative SLNB could help diagnose differentiated thyroid microcarcinoma that may be missed preoperatively and intraoperatively. This could prevent the need for a second surgery since the intraoperative frozen section examination of the SLNs can reveal metastasis from thyroid cancer.