Author(s): Scheumann GF, Seeliger H, Musholt TJ, Gimm O
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the prognostic factors that influence survival and recurrence after "completion" thyroidectomy (removal of the total thyroid remnant after diagnosis of carcinoma has been made in a specimen that was incompletely excised for a benign condition). DESIGN: Open study. SETTING: Teaching hospital, Germany. SUBJECTS: 131 Patients (65 with papillary and 66 with follicular thyroid cancer) who underwent completion thyroidectomy after primary subtotal resection. INTERVENTIONS: Indications for further operation were: tumour stage worse than pT1 ( n = 116), tumour stage pT1 and the suspicion of persistence of the tumour (n = 13), and incompletely resected tumour (n = 2). Multivariate analysis by Cox's proportional hazards model. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Recurrence, development of metastases, and length of survival. RESULTS: Patients who underwent their completion thyroidectomies within six months of the primary operation had significantly fewer recurrences, fewer lymph node metastases, fewer haematogenous metastases and survived significantly longer than those in whom the second operation was delayed for longer than six months. The age at the time of diagnosis and the stage of the tumour influenced survival, whereas sex and type of tumour did not. CONCLUSION: Completion thyroidectomy as soon as possible after incomplete resection of the tumour may improve prognosis in differentiated thyroid cancers the stage of which is worse than pT1 or in patients whose recurrent tumour is diagnosed at follow-up.