Inter-Observer Variation in the Pathologic Identification of Extranodal Extension in Nodal Metastasis from Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma

Du E, Wenig BM, Su HK, Rowe ME, Haser GC, Asa SL, Baloch Z, Faquin WC, Fellegara G, Giordano T, Ghossein R, LiVolsi VA, Lloyd R, Mete O, Ozbek U, Rosai J, Suster S, Thompson LD, Turk AT, Urken ML.
Thyroid. 2016 Jun;26(6):816-9.
Background: Extranodal extension (ENE) in lymph node metastases has been shown to worsen the prognosis of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). Despite the clinical significance of ENE, there are no stringent criteria for its microscopic diagnosis, and its identification is subject to inter-observer variability. The objective of this study was to determine the level of agreement among expert pathologists in the identification of ENE in PTC cases.
Methods: Eleven expert pathologists from the United States, Italy, and Canada were asked to review 61 scanned slides of representative permanent sections of PTC specimens from Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center in New York. Each slide was evaluated for the presence of ENE. The pathologists were also asked to report the criteria they use to identify ENE.
Results: The overall strength of agreement in identifying ENE was only fair (j = 0.35), and the proportion of observed agreement was 0.68. The proportions of observed agreement for the identification of perinodal structures (fat, nerve, skeletal, and thick-walled vessel involvement) ranged from 0.61 to 0.997.
Conclusions: Overall agreement for the identification of ENE is poor. The lack of agreement results from both variation in pathologists’ identification of features and disagreement on the histologic criteria for ENE. This lack of concordance may help explain some of the discordant information regarding prognosis in clinical studies when this feature is identified.
PubMed ID: 27089928
Article Size: <1 MB