A study was undertaken to evaluate the diagnostic efficiency of 99mTc-Tetrofosmin scan and color Doppler in the characterization of benign and malignant solitary thyroid nodules.
Fifty-two patients found to have a cold solitary thyroid nodule on 99mTc-pertechnetate scintigraphy were included in this study. All patients underwent a single-injection dual-phase (30 min and 120 min) 99mTc-Tetrofosmin scan. The intranodular vascularity was measured using color Doppler sonography. Fine-needle aspiration cytology was performed on all the patients. In the following days and weeks all patients underwent surgery.
Thirteen out of 15 patients with thyroid cancer showed delayed retention of radiotracer (on 120 min images as compared to the initial 30 min image). Thirty-six out of 37 patients harboring benign solitary nodules showed significant washout of tracer on delayed images. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of delayed 99mTc-Tetrofosmin scintigraphy were found to be 86.6, 97.2, 92.8 and 94.7%, respectively. The Doppler study was able to demonstrate increased vascularity in the center of 8 of the 15 malignant nodules. Thirty-two patients harboring a benign solitary nodule showed normal or increased peripheral vascularity on Doppler study. Sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of color Doppler were found to be 53.5, 86.4, 61.5 and 82%, respectively.
Delayed 99mTc-Tetrofosmin scintigraphy is a highly sensitive and specific method for characterizing solitary thyroid nodules, while color Doppler has a low sensitivity but relatively high specificity in differentiating benign from malignant thyroid lesions.