Background: The presence of clinically negative nodules on the contralateral lobe is common in patients with unilateral papillary thyroid microcarcinoma (PTMC). The appropriate operational strategies of contralateral thyroid nodules remain controversial. In this study, we analyzed clinical features that could be predictors for malignancy of contralateral thyroid nodules coexisting with diagnosed unilateral PTMC.
Methods: The literatures published from January 2000 to December 2019 were searched in PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, Web of Science, CNKI, and Wan Fang database. Odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to describe categorical variables. Heterogeneity among studies was examined by the Q test and I2 test; potential publication bias was detected by Harbord test and ‘trim and fill’ method.
Results: 2541 studies were searched and 8 studies were finally included in this meta-analysis. The results showed that the rate of carcinoma in contralateral nodules was 23% (OR=0.23, 95%CI=0.18-0.29). The pooled data indicated that contralateral malignancy was not associated with age, gender, primary lesion size, ipsilateral central lymph node metastasis and multifocality of contralateral lesion. The following variables have correlations with an increased risk of contralateral malignancy: multifocality of primary carcinomas (OR=3.93, 95%CI=2.70-5.73, p<0.0001), capsular invasion (OR=1.61, 95%CI=1.10-2.36, p=0.01), and Hashimoto's thyroiditis (OR=1.57，95%CI=1.13-2.20, P=0.008).
Conclusions: Based on our meta-analysis, the rate at which contralateral malignancy are preoperatively misdiagnosed as benign is 23%. The risk factors for contralateral malignancy in unilateral PTMC patients with contralateral clinical negative nodules include multifocality of primary carcinomas, capsular invasion, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.