Clinicians who use or who are considering using ultrasound as a diagnostic tool for scanning thyroids will have a new and more effective protocol to follow when diagnosing malignant vs benign thyroid nodules. The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating our body's metabolism. The thyroid has two main hormones, which are T3 (tri-iodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), if the body does not release the proper level of these hormones then disease can occur.
Examples of diseases associated with an unbalanced thyroid are: Hypo or hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer or development of solitary thyroid nodules. Using ultrasound and fine needle aspiration biopsy, radiologists from the research institute of radiological science at Yonsei University of College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea conducted a study to categorize the thyroid nodules found on patients. Previous TIRADS have been difficult to apply in practical life so the study was devised to create a simpler categorical protocol, according to the study:
The authors used the findings to create TIRADS categories, which were defined as:
- Category 3 — no suspicious features
- Category 4a — one suspicious feature
- Category 4b — two suspicious features
- Category 4c — three or four suspicious features
- Category 5 — five suspicious features
Additionally, researchers found "several ultrasound features demonstrated a significant association with malignancy. These were: solid component, hypoechogenicity, marked hypoechogenicity, microlobulated or irregular margins, microcalcification and taller-than-wide shape."
Endocrinologists and other clinicians can apply these features in conjunction with needle visualization technology for biopsies when conducting ultrasound to assist in diagnosing thyroid malignancy.