Vascular flow on doppler sonography may not be a valid characteristic to distinguish colloid nodules from papillary thyroid carcinoma even when accounting for nodular size

J. Matthew Debnam, Thinh Vu, Jia Sun, Wei Wei, Savitri Krishnamurthy, Mark E. Zafereo, Steven P. Weitzman, Naveen Garg, Salmaan Ahmed


Background: The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that there is no significant difference in vascular flow patterns between cytopathologically-proven colloid nodules and papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) even when adjusting for nodule size.
Methods: Doppler vascular flow patterns in 200 colloid nodules and 166 nodules with PTC were retrospective reviewed independently by 2 neuroradiologists blinded to the cytopathological results. Absence of vascular flow, perinodular and/or intranodular flow, and diffuse vascular flow were recorded. The vascular flow patterns were compared without (Fisher exact test) and with (Kruskal-Wallis test) an adjustment for nodular size. Using the most common flow pattern as the reference group, multiple logistic regression was used to compare the flow patterns. Sample skewness was calculated to determine degree of symmetry of the size distribution for each vascular flow category.
Results: No significant difference was found in the tested vascular flow patterns between colloid nodules and PTC both without and with an adjustment for nodular size (P>0.05). Intranodular flow only was the largest group (n=111/366) and used as the reference for multiple logistic regression. No significant difference was noted between the vascular flow patterns (P>0.05). Sample skewness showed that nodules were generally smaller in size with outliers of larger size on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Conclusions: Independent of nodule size the absence or presence of vascular flow is not significantly different between colloid nodules and PTC. Therefore, vascular flow may not be useful in distinguishing between colloid nodules and PTC.