Objectives: There has been slow adoption of thyroid ultrasound guidelines with adherence rates as low as 30% and no population-based studies investigating adherence to guideline-based malignancy risk assessment. We therefore evaluated the impact of adherence to the 2015 ATA guidelines or 2017 ACR-TIRADS guidelines on the quality of thyroid ultrasound reports in our healthcare region.
Methods: We reviewed 899 thyroid ultrasound reports of patients who received fine needle aspiration biopsy and were diagnosed with Bethesda III or IV nodules or thyroid cancer. Ultrasounds were reported by radiology group 1, group 2, or other groups, and were divided into pre-2018 (before guideline adherence) or 2018-onwards. Reports were given a utility score (0 to 6) based on how many relevant nodule characteristics were included.
Results: Group 1 had a pre-2018 utility score of 3.62 and 39.4% classification reporting rate, improving to 5.77 and 97.0% among 2018-onwards reports. Group 2 had a pre-2018 score of 2.8 and reporting rate of 11.5%, improving to 5.58 and 93.3%. Other radiology groups had a pre-2018 score of 2.49 and reporting rate of 32.2%, improving to 3.28 and 61.8%. Groups 1 and 2 had significantly higher utility scores and reporting rates in their 2018-onward reports when compared to other groups’ 2018-onward reports, pre-2018 group 1 reports, and pre-2018 group 2 reports.
Conclusions: Dedicated adherence to published thyroid ultrasound reporting guidelines can lead to improvements in report quality. This will reduce diagnostic ambiguity and improve clinician’s decision-making, leading to overall reductions in unnecessary FNA biopsy and diagnostic surgery.