What are thyroid cysts and how are they diagnosed?

Updated: Aug 19, 2020
  • Author: Daniel J Kelley, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Thyroid cysts represent 15-25% of all thyroid nodules and are usually diagnosed by the aspiration of fluid from a solitary thyroid nodule. These entities are often caused by cystic degeneration of normal thyroid tissue, hemorrhage or trauma, occult follicular adenoma or carcinoma, multinodular goiter, or branchial anomalies that involve the thyroid gland. Simple epithelium-lined cysts, hemorrhagic colloid nodules, or necrotic papillary thyroid cancers can be found in resection specimens. In one particular study, 68% of cystic thyroid lesions selected for surgical therapy were benign, while 32% were thyroid carcinomas. To improve the diagnostic accuracy of aspiration biopsy, some authors advocate biochemical analysis of cyst fluid.

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